Sources: Atlanta Falcons compile diverse list of GM candidates

The NFL is putting a premium on promoting diverse candidates, which is exactly what the Atlanta Falcons are targeting in their next general manager, league sources told ESPN.

While the Falcons have been preparing for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, they also have been working to compile a diverse list of general manager candidates, according to sources.

The Falcons' list includes former Texans GM Rick Smith, Bears assistant director of personnel Champ Kelly, Rams director of college scouting Brad Holmes and former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, among others, according to league sources.

While the Falcons clearly are moving in this direction to fill their GM opening, a team official also told ESPN that they are still early in the process and in the research stages of a "wide field of candidates before we look at the interview stage. We want to do it right versus do it fast."

But there are candidates that have piqued Atlanta's interest, including Smith, who drafted Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt in Houston before parting ways with the organization.

Kelly once was a prime candidate for the Jets' GM job, and the Rams have had strong drafts during which Holmes helped lead the way. Holmes lives in Atlanta and has the support of many within the Rams' organization.

McKenzie, currently a senior personnel executive with the Dolphins, served as the Raiders GM from 2012 to 2018 and helped build the roster that culminated in a 12-4 record in 2016, marking the team's only postseason appearance since 2002. His list of first-round picks while with the Raiders includes franchise quarterback Derek Carr, Pro Bowl pass rusher Khalil Mack and star receiver Amari Cooper.

The Falcons have been searching for a GM since firing Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn last month. Raheem Morris has served as the Falcons' interim head coach, and team president Rich McKay has run Atlanta's football operations without an acting GM.