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Dimitroff: 2017 Falcons my strongest roster in a decade

For all of the "28-3" memes and obligatory Super Bowl hangover narratives, the Falcons are riding high with a loaded roster and high hopes this offseason.

After dominating the NFC playoff field, Atlanta added to an already strong talent base with veteran nose tackle Dontari Poe joining early-round draft picks in edge rusher Takk McKinley and linebacker Duke Riley.

With the exception of virtuoso former coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the league's No. 1 offense returns virtually intact while the speedy young defense showed potential down the stretch last season.

The Falcons' 2017 prospects are so encouraging, in fact, that general manager Thomas Dimitroff expects to boast his strongest roster in a decade with the organization.

Appearing on The MMQB Podcast with Albert Breer last week, Dimitroff was asked where this year's squad stacks up to his previous nine editions.

"I think we are at a spot right now that, quite honestly, is the most talented overall," Dimitroff crowed. "... As a whole group, I'm wildly excited about where we are. It's just a well-rounded group."

That's high praise considering Dimitroff's club averaged 11 victories per season from 2008 through 2012 and toyed with the Patriots for nearly three full quarters in Super Bowl LI.

Under the leadership of Dimitroff and fast-rising head coach Dan Quinn, the Falcons not only draft for speed, explosiveness and urgent athleticism, but also place a heavy emphasis on competitive toughness, complete with a "CT" grade for each prospect.

"I think it's being reflected with the players on the field," Dimitroff explained "... I think it's showing in the type of players we have with the resiliency, the focus and there's just an element of competitiveness that I think helps us not look at the past and to look forward."

Whereas pundits and casual football observers are predicting a regression to the mean this season, Dimitroff paints a decidedly more optimistic picture inside Falcons headquarters.

"They know that there's talent here. They are excited about the energy in the locker room as well as within our fanbase," Dimitroff said. "Everyone's really excited. No one is thinking about what if we don't rise to the occasion. This team really believes in itself. They continue to get more and more confidence and swagger."

Repeating in an improved, exciting NFC South won't be easy with the rejuvenated Panthers and the up-and-coming Buccaneers as stiff competition.

Although last year's injury-ravaged Carolina outfit finished a disappointing 6-10, the 2016 Panthers stand as the exception rather than the rule for Super Bowl losers. Since 2008, runners-up have combined to finish 95-49 (.660) the next season, with eight of those nine clubs notching double-digit victories.

Armed with a surging powerhouse roster, Dimitroff's ebullience is well-founded as his Falcons embark on a promising era inside the cozy confines of the new $1.4 billion Mercedes Benz Stadium.

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