ATLANTA -- Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is looking at more than just defensive ends as he considers his options for the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night.
Most mock drafts have Dimitroff picking an end in the first round, but that also was the prediction a year ago, when instead he chose linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
Dimitroff could provide an even bigger surprise this year.
"We need more explosiveness on both sides of the ball," Dimitroff told The Associated Press. "I can suggest everyone reading between the lines on that. People that are going to make big-time plays, both offensively and defensively."
Atlanta also lacks speed at running back.
Starter Michael Turner and backup Jason Snelling are productive, powerful runners. Jerious Norwood, who is supposed to be the speedy complement to Turner, has been slowed by injuries in two consecutive seasons. Norwood played in just two games in 2010 because of a knee injury and was limited by head and hip injuries to 10 games in 2009.
"We obviously have a quarterback in place, so that's not one we're going to be focused on," Dimitroff said. "I really believe offensively we have a lot of pieces in place and we need to just tweak a couple of areas that can provide us with big plays and big explosive plays. We think there's a really good opportunity to do that in the draft and potentially if there was free agency, there as well."
Dimitroff said he expects to see many teams to look for defensive ends high in the draft.
"This year's defensive end class is a very solid class as far as numbers and there are some very talented football players out there," he said. "I think there will be a good focus toward that position by a lot of teams. We realize there will be a lot of teams focusing on defensive tackles and defensive ends and rush-type linebackers."
Center is another question as starter Todd McClure is 34.
"Obviously, last year, we had planned for some of the moves that could possibly happen if we lost some players in free agency," Dimitroff said. "We pointed our arrow toward a couple spots along the offensive line to make sure we had some depth there in case we lost a couple players."
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Another position to watch might be tight end. Tony Gonzalez, 35, has said a long lockout could affect his plans to play another year.
"We know we need to continue to strengthen our secondary," Dimitroff said. "I think as the dust settles a little more, you realize as a team that it's not like we need to make drastic wholesale changes, obviously. Does it bring to light some of the shortcomings we do have? No question about it."
Dimitroff said he'll be open to trading the first-round pick.
"At 27, I've always said it's a good value area to be in because it gives you a chance to move up or back, which is attractive," he said. "If you see someone you truly like and you want to jump up 10 or 12 spots, you can do that. Or if you determine there are a number of players you still like with a good value, you can move back."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press