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No pressing needs for Falcons heading into wide-open draft

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons are used to focusing on one or two positions in the NFL draft.

Not this year.

After a Super Bowl appearance two years ago and another trip to the playoffs last season, the Falcons are fairly content with their roster.

Oh, sure, they've got needs like every other team.

But nothing that looks too pressing.

"This draft is different than most drafts I've been involved with," said Thomas Dimitroff, entering his second decade as the Falcons' general manager.

"This is an important draft and an interesting draft. There are a number of positions we're looking at, more than other years. Other years, we really homed in on one or two positions."

The Falcons have the No. 26 pick in Thursday night's opening round.

With a lot of attention on quarterbacks such as Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and the past two Heisman Trophy winners, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, Dimitroff expects some top talent to slip all the way down to Atlanta's spot.

"There's some really legitimate contenders to help our team right away at No. 26 if we stay put," he said. "We'll always be aggressive if we see some interesting impact players who can take us to another level. But hopefully they'll get to 26."

Atlanta follows up over the final two days of the draft with selections in the second (58th overall), third (90th), fourth (126th), sixth (200th) and seventh (244th) rounds. In addition, the Falcons were awarded the final pick (No. 256) as compensation for losing five players in free agency, which means they have a chance to grab the player known as "Mr. Irrelevant."

Here's some things to watch from Atlanta heading into the draft:

BIG NEEDS

The Falcons will be looking for help on the interior of the defensive line after mammoth tackle Dontari Poe signed with NFC South rival Carolina during free agency.

The offensive line could get an upgrade, as well. Even though the Falcons signed guard Brandon Fusco in free agency, they are still looking for players to bolster their blocking around center Alex Mack.

OTHER OPENINGS

The Falcons don't have a fullback on the roster after deciding not to re-sign Derrick Coleman, so look for some help at that position in the later rounds.

Also keep an eye on receiver. If someone such as Alabama's Calvin Ridley becomes available, the Falcons might jump at the chance to land a potential star who could take some of the coverage pressure off Julio Jones.

TEAM EFFORT

Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn have formed an excellent working relationship after somewhat of a forced partnership.

The general manager was hired by the Falcons in 2008 and initially had total control over the draft, but he surrendered some of that power to Quinn when the coach was hired by owner Arthur Blank in 2015.

The arrangement has worked out just fine.

"It's nice for me from an experience standpoint to draft alongside one of the most tenured GMs in the league," Quinn said.

WHEELIN' AND DEALIN'

Dimitroff is always looking to make a deal on draft day.

Last year, the GM sent three picks to the Seahawks in order to move up to No. 26 - the same spot the Falcons have this year - for UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley, feeling he would be a perfect fit in Quinn's attacking defense.

Dimitroff also traded up to get cornerback Desmond Trufant in 2013, and most notably pulled off a huge deal with Cleveland in 2011 to land Jones, who quickly developed into one of the league's top receivers and a cornerstone of the franchise. The Browns are still regretting that trade.

HITS, MISSES AND BARGAINS

QB Matt Ryan has started all but two games since Dimitroff, in his first draft, made him the No. 3 overall pick in 2008. That remains the most significant selection in franchise history.

CB Jalen Collins, a second-rounder out of LSU in 2015, continually ran afoul of drug-testing rules and wound up playing less than two full seasons for the Falcons, who released him last November after his second suspension.

DT Grady Jarrett has become a force on the defensive front since being picked in the fifth round out of Clemson in 2015. The dynamic RB duo of Devonta Freeman (fourth round, 2014) and Tevin Coleman (third round, 2013) were both bargains. LB De'Vondre Campbell was a fourth-round selection in 2016 who became an immediate starter on defense.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

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For more AP NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Vick to be assistant on Atlanta's new spring football team

ATLANTA (AP) - Michael Vick's second try for a football championship in Atlanta will come as a coach.

Atlanta was announced on Wednesday as the choice to join Orlando as franchises in the new Alliance of American Football that will begin play next February.

The Atlanta Alliance has hired former NFL coach Brad Childress as its head coach. Vick, the former Falcons quarterback, will serve as Childress' offensive coordinator.

"I want to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta," Vick said. "It's always been a dream of mine, and now I have another shot."

Atlanta is the second city to get a franchise in the league that was created by Pro Football Hall of Fame member Bill Polian and longtime TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol. The Alliance has a television deal with CBS and plans to open its first season the week after the Super Bowl.

Vick, 37, was the top overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft by Atlanta and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection during his time with the Falcons (2001-06). His stay ended in disgrace.

Vick served 18 months in prison following his guilty plea for a dogfighting operation in his native Virginia. He returned to play five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, followed by short stints with the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.

In 2017, he was welcomed back to the Falcons family by owner Arthur Blank in a retirement ceremony for Vick and receiver Roddy White.

Vick took the Falcons to the NFC championship game in 2004 but never reached the Super Bowl.

"When I accepted the job and thought about what it would take to bring this city a championship, I knew that I needed to bring Michael Vick back to Atlanta," Childress said. "His connection with the city is undeniable, and his 13 years of NFL experience will make him a tremendous asset to our team. I saw firsthand his innate ability to bring out the best in those around him and I'm confident that together, we're going to build something special for the city of Atlanta."

Vick said he has "a love and passion for teaching the game of football."

"I've learned so much over the course of my career, playing for and being mentored by some of the best coaches in all of football," he said. "I'm committed to paying it forward, helping players grow and putting some of my ideas into action on the football field. To do this in Atlanta just makes it that much sweeter."

Another veteran coach, Steve Spurrier, is in charge of the Orlando team.

"There is a tremendous amount of players and coaches who deserve a chance to compete at a professional level, but only a limited and finite amount of roster spots and positions in the sport today," Childress said. "The Alliance of American Football offers an exciting opportunity for players and coaches to launch or continue their career at the professional level during the spring, and I'm particularly impressed with its strong focus on the relationship between players, fans and the game."

The team will play at Georgia State Stadium, the former Turner Field that was home to baseball's Atlanta Braves.

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For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Family: Delta tied woman with disability to wheelchair

ATLANTA (AP) - A woman with multiple sclerosis says Delta Air Lines employees tied her to a wheelchair with a blanket when they didn't have a chair that could accommodate her disability, and her son says a supervisor cursed at her as she wept.

Maria Saliagas tells WSB-TV that Delta usually provides a wheelchair with straps because she can't sit up on her own. Nathan Saliagas tweeted April 2 that Delta's actions left his mother bruised and crying.

He tweeted a photo of his mother and tagged Delta and several local journalists. Delta spokesman Anthony Black says the company regrets "the perception our service has left on these customers." The company offered the family 20,000 SkyMiles, but they want changes in the disability policy.

Nathan Saliagas says he's complained to federal transportation officials.

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Information from: WSB-TV, http://www.wsbtv.com/index.html

14 ACC players who could break out during fall camp

A look at football players in the Atlantic Coast Conference this spring who are poised to break out this fall:

ATLANTIC DIVISION

BOSTON COLLEGE

ELIJAH ROBINSON, WR, Sr. - Robinson had two long catches during the spring game - including a 44-yard touchdown. After being converted from quarterback, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder had problems with drops as a freshman but could find a spot in the receiving corps this year.

CLEMSON

TREVOR LAWRENCE, QB, Fr. - Lawrence should seemingly wait his time on the bench behind returning starter in senior to be Kelly Bryant. Instead, Clemson fans have swooned over the long-haired, strong-armed newcomer who broke Deshaun Watson's Georgia state prep records for yards and touchdowns.

FLORIDA STATE

TAMORRION TERRY, WR, Fr. - Redshirted last season, Terry has made an impression on new coach Willie Taggart. At 6-foot-4 and 197 pounds, he has shown quickness and had the advantage in many one-on-one matchups during practices. He should vie with Nyqwan Murray and Auden Tate to see who emerges as the top receiver.

LOUISVILLE

JON GREENARD, LB, Jr. - Greenard more than doubled his tackle total with 48 last season, including a team-best 15 for losses and seven sacks that tied for the team lead. He'll be expected to lead a unit breaking in its third defensive coordinator in as many seasons in Brian VanGorder.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE

NAKIA ROBINSON JR., RB, Fr. - Coach Dave Doeren's team needs some depth at running back with Nyheim Hines leaving early for the NFL. Robinson offers some upside; Doeren singled him out after the team's rain-soaked spring game when he ran for 87 yards and a TD.

SYRACUSE

TOMMY DEVITO, QB, Fr. - The well-regarded redshirt freshman has a rifle arm and got the majority of the reps with the first unit in spring ball. He will enter summer camp as the backup to senior Eric Dungey, who was recovering from a leg injury and didn't have his normal spring workload.

WAKE FOREST

KENDALL HINTON, QB, Soph. - Hinton will enter camp as the presumptive starter for the second straight year. He lost the starting job to John Wolford last year, then suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 3 - and now that he's fully healthy, is looking to prove himself all over again.

COASTAL DIVISION

DUKE

AJ REED, K, Jr. - It's been a multiyear struggle for the Blue Devils in the kicking game, and last year's starter, Austin Parker, was kicked off the team before the Quick Lane Bowl. That might mean another opportunity for Reed, who was just 3 for 10 on field goals in 2016 but kicked a 46-yarder during the final scrimmage.

GEORGIA TECH

JALEN CAMP, WR, Jr. - The Yellow Jackets must replace top receiver Ricky Jeune, and Camp might be the best option. The 6-foot-2 wideout has good size and speed - he caught three passes of at least 20 yards in a spring scrimmage - but is still developing the blocking skills needed in Georgia Tech's option offense.

NORTH CAROLINA

ANTHONY RATLIFF-WILLIAMS, WR, Jr. - The converted quarterback and trick-play artist saw his first major action for the Tar Heels last year. He led the team with 630 yards receiving and is poised to become the top target in UNC's high-speed offense.

MIAMI

MALIK ROSIER, QB, Sr. - He led the Hurricanes to the ACC title game last season. But it's unclear if he'll even have the starting job this season.

PITTSBURGH

KENNY PICKETT, QB, Soph. - Pickett vaulted out of obscurity as a freshman by leading the Panthers to an upset of No. 2 Miami in the final game of a losing season and claiming the starting job going forward. Now his challenge is to prove he's more than a one-game wonder.

VIRGINIA

BRYCE PERKINS, QB, Jr. - The dual-threat quarterback who began his career at Arizona State and played last season at Arizona Western Community College has the skills to play coach Bronco Mendenhall's system. Mendenhall hopes Perkins' escapability makes the Cavaliers' offense less predictable and more difficult to defend,

VIRGINIA TECH

RICKY WALKER, DT, Sr. - Walker opted to return for his senior season after he had 41 tackles last season. One of coordinator Bud Foster's main jobs is to develop some players around him.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Established ACC QBs face challenges during spring practice

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - This spring was a busy one around the Atlantic Coast Conference - especially for the returning quarterbacks who won division titles last season.

In a conference in which its only new head coach wasted no time getting comfortable in his new position and Louisville developed a replacement for its only Heisman Trophy winner, the main subplot revolved around the seemingly secure QBs who are trying to keep their jobs.

That list includes both of the starters in last year's ACC championship game, Kelly Bryant of Clemson and Malik Rosier of Miami.

Bryant, who took over for Deshaun Watson in 2017 and led the Tigers to their third straight ACC title and third consecutive playoff berth, was pushed by highly touted freshman Trevor Lawrence and sophomore Hunter Johnson.

"We've got a really good situation," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "Never had quite this type of situation where we've got really four guys (along with Chase Brice) that I think could go win with, literally. I think we could go win with any of those guys."

The Hurricanes wrapped up spring practice with Rosier facing a challenge from early enrollee Jarren Williams and others. When coach Mark Richt was asked following the final spring scrimmage if the competition was open, he responded "absolutely ... until the bitter end."

Some things to watch around the ACC when preseason camps open during the summer:

CLEMSON'S QB BATTLE

Swinney has an embarrassment of riches with Lawrence and Johnson - the nation's top recruits in both 2018 and '17, respectively - competing with Bryant, who accounted for 24 touchdowns while leading the Tigers to a 12-2 record. Lawrence broke Watson's Georgia high school records for yards passing and touchdowns, and Johnson was rated as the nation's top high school quarterback two years ago and played some as Bryant's backup.

"Last year, we were starting over, and Kelly had no experience and Hunter was just getting here, trying to figure it out ... and Trevor wasn't here," Swinney said. "So I think we're going to be in a much better starting point than we were this time last year."

EMBRACING THE PAST

Willie Taggart, the league's only new coach in 2018, is taking over for Jimbo Fisher at Florida State and one of his first moves was to reconnect the Seminoles' tradition-rich past with their present - even bringing back Bobby Bowden for the spring game. "I didn't feel we were really connected like we needed to be," said Taggart, a native Floridian. "So we tried to put emphasis on just getting everyone back involved, people that built the program and made it to what it is today, and let them know we appreciate it. I think it's important that our football team understand those people that came before them as well. Because they're a big reason why they decided to come to Florida State."

A LONG PASS

Jawon Pass has the tough job of following a Heisman Trophy winner at Louisville, having spent two years as Lamar Jackson's understudy. At 6-foot-4 and 231 pounds, Pass probably won't tuck it and run quite as often as Jackson did when he won the Heisman two years ago - though coach Bobby Petrino says Pass does run the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds. "He can throw the ball, he's big, he's got good vision," Petrino said. "He's also fast, you know?"

INSPIRED ORANGE

It might be difficult to find a tougher player in the league than Syracuse QB Rex Culpepper, who threw a touchdown pass in the spring game less than a month after being diagnosed with a treatable form of testicular cancer that doctors later discovered had spread to his abdominal lymph nodes. He's undergoing chemotherapy and hopes to be cleared to play this season.

"He goes to class with a smile on his face. He comes to practice with a smile on his face yet he's a very, very serious competitor," coach Dino Babers said. "Anytime you've got a young man at that age that's so focused and so determined, and he knows what he wants most, and he's not willing to trade that in for something at the moment, that person's going to always be a positive reflection, not only on himself and his family, but also on his teammates."

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AP Sports Writer Gary B. Graves in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

GA Lottery

ATLANTA (AP) _ These Georgia lotteries were drawn Wednesday:

01-02-03-06-08-09-10-11-12-17-22-23

(one, two, three, six, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, seventeen, twenty-two, twenty-three)

Estimated jackpot: $111 million

Estimated jackpot: $158 million

Mega Millions

Powerball

Winning numbers drawn in 'All or Nothing Morning' game

ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Wednesday morning's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's "All or Nothing Morning" game were:

01-02-03-06-08-09-10-11-12-17-22-23

(one, two, three, six, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, seventeen, twenty-two, twenty-three)

Georgia deputies investigating fatal shooting of man, woman

MACON, Ga. (AP) - Hours after the local sheriff described efforts to contain gun violence, two more bodies were found early Wednesday on a street littered with shell casings - Macon's 13th and 14th homicides this year.

The Macon Telegraph cites a Bibb County Sheriff's Office release that says deputies found a 23-year-old Keyon Hogan and an unidentified woman fatally shot.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said his agency's Neighborhood Redemption Program would target areas where violence is spiking. Last week, federal prosecutor Charles Peeler announced the re-launching of Project Safe Neighborhoods, to identify and prosecute particularly violent offenders.

Holding up an assault rifle recovered from a crime scene, Bibb blamed the violence on the wide availability of such weapons.

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Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.macontelegraph.com

Pandora to create 250 jobs in Atlanta

ATLANTA (AP) - One of the largest music streaming services will create 250 jobs in Atlanta.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said in a news release Wednesday that Pandora will expand its presence over the next three years. The company plans to hire for positions in product and engineering, sales, client services, legal and human resources.

Deal calls Pandora's expansion an "investment" to a highly-skilled Atlanta workforce.

Pandora CEO Roger Lynch says Atlanta is a proper place to expand because of the city's rich music history, startup company culture and extensive higher education community.

Georgia deputies investigating fatal shooting of man, woman

MACON, Ga. (AP) - Hours after the local sheriff described efforts to contain gun violence, two more bodies were found early Wednesday on a street littered with shell casings - Macon's 13th and 14th homicides this year.

The Macon Telegraph cites a Bibb County Sheriff's Office release that says deputies found a 23-year-old Keyon Hogan and an unidentified woman fatally shot.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said his agency's Neighborhood Redemption Program would target areas where violence is spiking. Last week, federal prosecutor Charles Peeler announced the re-launching of Project Safe Neighborhoods, to identify and prosecute particularly violent offenders.

Holding up an assault rifle recovered from a crime scene, Bibb blamed the violence on the wide availability of such weapons.

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Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.macontelegraph.com

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