Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff knows what you're thinking. The team's signing of linebacker Brian Banks is a terrific story of overcoming adversity after being wrongly imprisoned for five years, but that's probably all it is: a story.
Dimitroff doesn't see it that way.
"This isn't a charity case. This is a great feel-good story, but it's also one we believe he has a chance to come in here and compete," Dimitroff said Thursday on "NFL AM."
So what does Banks offer? Dimitroff says it's the combination of his obvious drive and overlooked physical skills.
"Combine all his character and all of his drive, work ethic, along with all the training he's been doing lately," Dimitroff said before talking about Banks' on-field prowess. "Think about this. This isn't just a guy that's just slopping around. This guy is 6-foot-2, 250 pounds. Runs (the 40-yard dash) in the low 4.8s (seconds). His functional movement skills were very good. We like how he's developed."
Nothing is guaranteed for the 27-year-old, but that's true of most offseason signings. Banks, who nearly gave up his NFL dream, hardly will be the only one at the team facility this offseason waging an uphill battle to make the team. Banks just wanted a chance.
"He knows it's tough to make it," Dimitroff said. "It's a long journey. He's well on his way to achieving what he wants to achieve on his journey, but there's still a long distance to go. He understands that. We understand that, too."Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.