FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons are on a roll with back-to-back transformative drafts.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn have received most of the credit for the moves, but the scouting department has played a key role in assessing the talent across the nation and making sure that players who fit Quinn’s schemes are on the team’s draft board.
Because the Falcons do not approve interviews of their scouts, they work away in the shadows. They will approve Steve Sabo, the director of college scouting, to take some questions from the team’s website periodically.
Other than that, the insight we get into scouting comes from Dimitroff and Quinn.
Here’s a look quick look at the Falcons’ scouting department:
Joel Collier, Director of Pro Personnel — Collier, 53, joined the staff last February after spending five seasons as the assistant general manager for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2009-13. He’s also worked with New England, Miami and Tampa Bay.
Steve Sabo, Director of College Scouting — Sabo is in his third season in this role. He spent his first two seasons with the Falcons scouting the Midwest area, while scouting the Southeast in 2012. Sabo has also worked for Cleveland and New Orleans.
Phil Emery, National Scout — Former Bears general manager.
Ruston Webster, National Scout — Former Titans general manager.
Shepley Heard, Regional Scout — Heard is in his 11th season with the Falcons and his third season as a regional scout. He is primarily responsible for covering schools throughout the eastern half of the United States.
Russ Bolinger, National Scout — Former NFL player and long time scout.
Sae Woon Jo, Area Scout — In his fourth season with the Falcons and third as an area scout responsible for the West region of the country. He spent his first season as the college scouting coordinator where his duties included day-to-day operations of the scouting department, coordinating college visit logistics for the Falcons’ Personnel Department, draft board preparations, “Point of Attack” tapes and evaluations of college and pro players.
Tokunbo Abanikanda, Area Scout — Is in his third season as an area scout. Had the plum assignment of scouting Clemson’s Pro Day in 2017.
Anthony Robinson, Regional Scout — Eighth season in the Falcons personnel department. He serves as an area scout responsible for scouting college players in the southeast region of the country. Robinson spent his first three seasons as a Scouting Assistant where his duties included day-to-day operations of the scouting department, draft board preparations and coordinating college visits and pro workouts. Did the footwork on last year’s first-round draft pick Keanu Neal.
Kevin Simon, Pro Scout — Came over from the Cowboys last May.
Bob Kronenberg, Area Scout — Has been with the franchise in a variety of capacity, coming over after the Georgia Force disbanded.
Michael Ross, Area Scout — He is responsible for scouting colleges in the Midwest.
James Bodenheimer, Area Scout — He was promoted last May. Bodenheimer was a scouting assistant for the Falcons since Jan. 2015. He served internships with the Falcons, the San Diego Chargers and the New York Mets.
Rodrik David, Scouting Assistant — Former defensive backs coach at Case Western Reserve started as a training camp scouting intern and was promoted to his current position in Feb. 2016.
Richard Sanders, Scouting Assistant — Was a student assistant for the Cincinnati Bearcats and also worked at Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. Was hired by the Falcons last June.
Bailey Swyden, Scouting Coordinator — Former training camp coordinator for the Chiefs. Was hired by the Falcons in May 2016.
Katie Sowers, Scouting Intern — Served coaching internship last season working with the wide receivers. Helped the coaches at Georgia Tech’s Pro Day in 2017.