What if the Falcons retained their NFL draft picks?

Colorado's Jimmy Smith went 27th to Baltimore in the spot originially owned by the Atlanta Falcons. He has top 10 talent and similar measurables to hall of famer Rod Woodson. But his off-the-field issues caused him to drop to 27. (Associated Press)

Colorado's Jimmy Smith went 27th to Baltimore in the spot originally owned by the Atlanta Falcons. He has top 10 talent and similar measurables to hall of famer Rod Woodson. But his off-the-field issues caused him to drop to 27. (Associated Press)

BIRDLAND – If the Falcons had not made the mega-trade here’s what their draft could have looked like:

–Cornerback Jimmy Smith went 27th to Baltimore. He had too much baggage, but would have been a nice add to a secondary that must defend Tampa Bay’s huge receivers and New Orleans’ Marques Colston. Defensive end Cam Heyward was still on the board, but I was told he wasn’t a scheme fit. Also, Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard was available. The Falcons likely would have passed on Smith and selected Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph.

–Wide receiver Greg Little went 59th to Cleveland. He’s a little bit of a Diva. He had nice form when he kicked that ball into the stands at Virginia Tech. He’s a former running back and is a natural running after the catch. He likely would have been a first-round pick if he didn’t get caught up in the Tar Heels’ NCAA scandal. Both Little and Jones are 6-3. Little is nine pounds heavier and much stronger. Little had 27 reps of 225 pounds, while Jones had 17 reps. Jones however is faster, 4.34 to 4.51 in the 40-yard dash and has much better hands.

–Fullback Owen Marecic went 124th to Cleveland. With Ovie Mughelli, the Falcons would not have taken Marecic. They would have selected Taiwan Jones, the

Greg Little could have an Atlanta Falcon with the 59th pick in the draft. (Associated Press)

Greg Little could have been an Atlanta Falcon with the 59th pick in the draft. (Associated Press)

running back from Eastern Washington, who went on the next pick, 125th to Oakland.

So instead of Julio Jones, the Falcons would have had Smith, Little and Taiwan Jones. Or Rudolph, Little and Taiwan Jones.  So, in the future, those are the players to keep track of.  Also, the Browns have the Falcons’ first- and fourth-round picks next season.

Another interesting side note will be to compare the production of Jacquizz Rodgers, the Falcons’ fifth-round pick, and Taiwan Jones.

NFL.com had Jones rated as a 6.5 player and Rodgers as 6.2. Mel Kiper had Rodgers rated as the 12th best running back in the draft and Jones as the 14th best running back.

So now, knowing what the Falcons could have had, do you still like the trade?

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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100 comments Add your comment


May 5th, 2011
12:40 pm

Of course I still like the trade. Julio Jones is going to be one of the best Falcons ever.


May 5th, 2011
12:45 pm


May 5th, 2011
12:49 pm

Uh, yeah. Hands down. And I doubt the two picks next year will be high enough to change that feeling.

The playoff wins will trump any draft pick.


May 5th, 2011
12:50 pm

I didn’t like it as first, but as more time has passed it has grown on me. We wouldn’t have gotten an “impact” player with our pick this year, and you have to assume we will be in the 25+ range again next year in the first round. The other picks we gave up are more “role” picks – while higher in the draft order, our scouting has consistently found good value in later-round players that are schematic fits with what we do.

We have a glut of DE we have picked that are coming back from injury and/or been devloped over the past couple of years, and we can get a FA DE or CB help from an experienced player with the cap room we’ve saved by not having to pay for those picks.

Overall, I think it was a decent trade, but I just don’t know if it’s enough to put us over the edge and into the Super Bowl.

old qb

May 5th, 2011
12:55 pm

If the falcons get a free agent defensive end and an outside linebacker with pass rushing skills they’ll have the complete package. They should keep Jenkins to fill Finneran’s roll, trade Harry Douglas who was a non-factor last year and doesn’t have the explosion. At tight end everyone seems to forget that while Michael Palmer played fairly well as a rookie the one that turned heads was Colin Peake who should be back in the mix in 2011. With Kerry Meir back Roddy and Julio really make the receiving corps the premiere group in the league.


May 5th, 2011
12:55 pm

On draft day, my gut reaction was that they gave up too much. The more I think about it the better I like it. Matt has a good 10+ years at QB and Roddy @ 30 won’t be around that long. It could well be a heck of a Montana-Rice type combination that could unstopable for years. When would they have had a chance to get a receiver of this quality? they don’t come out every year. Last one before this pair was Calvin Johnson. We MUST get a DE in free agency to improve the defense. The young players on that side of the ball should improve with experiebce. Of course, Jones has to perform and the Falcons have to win so the pick we gave up ends up at least 20+. Would I have made the trade? No, I don’t have the guts but I am glad Dimitroff did!


May 5th, 2011
12:58 pm

you know, as much as I loved Greg Little, remember when we traded back into the 2nd round to get Jimmy Williams? There’s another talented, good player in college who didn’t do anything in the NFL.

KC in Smyrna

May 5th, 2011
1:00 pm

We have enough role players. We saw against Green Bay that we didn’t have enough special players to win the big games. We got 2 in Roddy and Julio on offense. we need to go out and buy one for defense to go with John Abraham. That will make the DBs look much better.

BTW. We don’t have the LBs to play pure zone. Let’s stop that.


May 5th, 2011
1:00 pm

BTW we would have NEVER taken Jimmy Smith. He is a slower MeAngelo Hall and we know what we did witth him.


May 5th, 2011
1:02 pm

when everyone talks about WR busts….much of the time it was because of thier being drafted as titanic reaches.

Troy Williamson and Darius Heyward Bey were complete outliers. Never should have been picked that high. Same deal with Ted Ginn. That was nuts, anyone who watched them play would tell you that.

Carlos Rodgers and Mike Williams couldn’t get out of their own way.

The guys who were hard workers though, Andre Johnson; Calvin Johnson; Reggie Wayne even Crabtree etc…. those guys have worked out very well.


May 5th, 2011
1:06 pm

I still like the trade fine because everything they do from Front Office to the Coaching staff is planned. The “process” or the “plan” what have you.

It’s obvious the way they went with this draft that they have done the work. They have identified where they could best go, what it would cost and weighed the pros and cons. These guys work thier tails off to attempt to make good decisions. That’s all I can ask as a fan.

I like the trade because I believe Julio is going to be a cornerstone player for this team.

Last year they went heavy on depth. This year, they went heavy on finding weapons.

DC-5xSB Winners

May 5th, 2011
1:10 pm

As a Cowboys fan, I LOVE the trade! How do you go completely against you’re supposed draft philosophy when you have so many needs on D?!? Had the Falcons done that for AJ it would have been worth all those pics because he’s a potential HOF’er. If they get Patrick Peterson then if might have been worth because it would have helped in one of their biggest areas of need. Julio is a great athlete but has too many knocks to give up that many picks. As Orlando alluded to they could have been used those picks to help shore up the D & to take a WR(s) with speed later on. Julio has the droppises like Michael Jenkins, can he overcome that? (Don’t give me the “broken hand” line he was dropping passes way before that!) Julio reminds me of Rody in a lot of ways & I think it’ll take him time develop in the NFL just like it did Rody. (If Cleveland keeps the pick & takes him that would have been a good pick if they accepted the fact he might not be a # 1 guy right away if ever.) In many ways this trade could set the Falcons back! If the Julio & the D continues struggles next season then this trade will not be worth it! Now will they feel compelled to throw it more? If so Matty Ice Pick might get frustrated when Jones & Jenkins start dropping balls then he’ll start throwing picks when he ties to force the ball to Rody & Tony! LOVE THIS TRADE!!! WHAT A DUMB MOVE! LOL!!!


May 5th, 2011
1:21 pm

You’re leaving out the first rounder next year.

Also, the Falcons could have shorn up their OL with Gabe Carimi, gotten a starting WLB in Akeem Ayers, or a pass rusher like Sheard or Brooks Reed. Randall Cobb or Jerrel Jernigan would have been available with the second pick or even Justin Houston if they wanted to roll the dice on a pothead.

The trade can only be evaluated when we find out where we pick next year. If Matt Ryan tears his ACL in Game 1 and the Falcons go 4-12, this trade will have been a disaster.

Obviously Dimitroff can’t predict injuries or flukes next season, but that is EXACTLY the risk of giving up so much.

Bird Droppings

May 5th, 2011
1:24 pm

You’ll hear some jeers next year when the draft is going on and we don’t have a pick.

On the other hand, let’s wait to see what happens in FA. I have a feeling the gameplan from Day One was to address defensive needs in FA and cherry pick through the draft. I say Mission Accomplished.

Bird Droppings

May 5th, 2011
1:29 pm

What if there are injuries next year? What about flukes? What if a plane crashed on the practice field in Flowery Branch? Yada yada yada.

Just think of the defensive coordinators for Tampa Bay, Carolina and NO. Good luck trying to game plan against the Falcons. We can hit you high, low, downfield, crossing patterns, on the ground with a bull or a speed demon or two…who’re you going to double team? Nobody!


May 5th, 2011
1:33 pm

The falcons made the right move. Period.

Yo Vince

May 5th, 2011
1:35 pm


May 5th, 2011
1:40 pm

This draft of JJ is going to be judged (in my mind) on what other free agents are signed and needs addressed in free agent singings.
Make no mistake, the Falcons gave up a lot of draft picks and potential value in those picks, which could have helped this team. But, with the unique aspect of this year drafting before the free agency period and only being able to trade picks… just maybe these picks won’t be as missed. If and only if they sign a couple quality free agents that help this year and next.

Average Joe

May 5th, 2011
1:46 pm

We could have probably moved up a little and got Mark Ingram for a lot less than JJ. Also, could have still taken Little. Now you have 2 dynamic play makers on offense

Average Joe

May 5th, 2011
1:52 pm

We could have got Mark Ingram and still taken Little. Now you have 2 dynamic play makers on offense and you keep your picks (including your #1 next year).
To move up and take JJ was a stretch for me. Had it been AJ — I would feel a little different.

Does it have Talons?

May 5th, 2011
1:54 pm

Another way to look at it is to compare who the Falcons drafted in similar spots over the past 4 years and evaluate the impact they HAVE had, versus what kind of impact the Falcons NEED to get to make it to the next level.

Under Thomas Dimitrov
Draft picks by the Falcons in the 4th round:
C Joe Hawley – Currently a backup (not in a rotation)
DE Lawrence Sidbury – Currently a backup (not in a rotation)

Draft picks by the Falcons in the 2nd round:
S William Moore – Starter, decent but not great, injury issues
MLB Curtis Lofton – Starter, difference maker

Draft picks by the Falcons in the late 1st round (near where they were slated to pick last week pre-trade):
OT Sam Baker – Starter, but not great and some are disappointed with his play
DT Peria Jerry – Backup, in the regular rotation, injury issues

By contrast the only draft pick the Falcons have had in the premium area of the 1st round:
QB Matt Ryan – Starter, Rookie of the Year, Pro-Bowler, franchise QB (winner of more games to start a career, tied with Dan Marino)

You don’t get players like Matt Ryan that elevate your team from day one by drafting late in the 1st round or later. Julio Jones could be a Pro-Bowl type receiver from day one.


May 5th, 2011
1:54 pm

Still have two more picks to go before we can evaluate this trade.

Next year’s #1 and #4.

Bball Fan

May 5th, 2011
1:56 pm

Greg Little kicked the ball into the stands during a bowl game, not at Va Tech

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 5th, 2011
1:58 pm

Hawes — “Also, the Browns have the Falcons’ first- and fourth-round picks next season.”

mark t

May 5th, 2011
2:07 pm

In my opion this years draft was not that high in talent. There was not a DE that I was crazy about, and obviously neither was TD and company. I still say we will sign a FA DE. As far a CB’s I really don’t think Grimes and Robinson are that bad. Hell we couldn’t get a decent pass rush to often. There should be a few good DE’s in FA. Someone who can come in right away and make an impact. As far as Julio they obviously think he will be an impact player from the get go. With that said in my opinion it was a good draft for the birds.


May 5th, 2011
2:09 pm

DC-5xSB Winners- seriously dude, have you nothing better to do. Self proclaimed cowboys fan on a falcons blog taking bout the falcons making “dumb moves”. Should Dimitroff be taking lessons from the 6-10 Dallas Thugboys??

Peter Jeter

May 5th, 2011
2:17 pm

@DC 5xSBwinners…..I thought is was a bad deal until a “cowboy fan” said it was a bad deal. Now I realize that it could turn out to be the best trade ever just like the Cowboys are turning out to be some of the biggest losers ever. Thank God for Ninety’s huh Cowboy Fans! LMAO@ujerks!

mark t

May 5th, 2011
2:21 pm

Love it Wesley! I have never logged onto another sports team blogging site and dogged them! They must have very boring lives!


May 5th, 2011
2:30 pm

I’ve seen a lot of people referencing the high bust factor for highly drafted wide receivers, but I haven’t seen anyone pointing out the obvious reason why. Who is usually drafting in the top of the first round? Rarely is it going to be a 13-3 team already in possession of an elite WR and an arguably elite quarterback with whom to play pitch and catch. Unfortunately for the Roy Williams and Charles Rogers of the world, it is the teams that have questionable QB play and lack supporting offensive weaponry. “Welcome to the NFL son, you’ll need to adjust to the tempo quickly… oh and please carry the passing game for us since we have no one else.” That is a lot to ask of any 21 year old kid. Julio Jones couldn’t have dreamed up a better scenario that the one he now finds himself in. Time will tell if he is worth the gamble, but I would say all indicators are favorable at this time.

Remember, TD has stated repeatedly that this was a calculated move, not a whimsical leap. I honestly believe that Mr. Blank has checkbook in hand and will gladly pay out for whatever Smith and Dimitroff say we need when FA begins. What a wonderful time to be a Falcons fan!


May 5th, 2011
2:39 pm

I have to assume that they know what they are doing. I do want to see a somewhat big time FA come in at DE or CB.


May 5th, 2011
2:39 pm

Average Joe — Thought the same thing. We could have gotten Mark Ingram. Suddenly Michael Turner is not a spring chicken himself. For the type of offense we run, we need a powerful every-down back. If not now, next season we may be needing an RB like that, but we won’t have the draft position to get a big-time player. For the record, I think Julio Jones will be a great addition, but I feel this RB issue is going to be a real concern sooner than people might think.


May 5th, 2011
3:02 pm

We don’t need draft picks we need players.

I have to agree with “Does it have Talons?”

Based on what Thomas Dimitroff has said about their due diligence regarding Julio Jones, JJ should be an impact player.

Obviously, we need help on defense.

Late round draft picks are going to address depth; they won’t typically produce elite players.

If we were to pick a highly touted DE that doesn’t work out, where would we put him? JA98 has already become more of a DT than a DE. So the answer to the need at defensive end should be free agency where you can get a proven NFL player.

Last year we got a solid corner in Dunta Robinson and Grimes really excelled. We need to add one more proven player for nickel packages.

Finally, the last area of concern for us will be the offensive line. Who do we keep and who will we need to replace?

Good draft by Thomas Dimitroff. Get players not bodies.


May 5th, 2011
3:22 pm

The best defense is a good offense! With JJ on one side and RW on the other, it should have us facing 7 man fronts again. MT is one happy guy because he should have a monster year. I really liked the JR pick and he will do a nice job as a third down back. You have a lot better chance of landing a difference maker at #6 then you do at #27. Shore up the pass rush through FA.


May 5th, 2011
3:28 pm

I don’t see how you can compare Jaquizz and Taiwan. They’re vastly different in size, style and usage. Plus, I’m not sure we would have passed on Marecic, who is very versatile. I, too, believe we’d have passed on Little….

The Real Falcon

May 5th, 2011
3:30 pm

If the lockout ends and we can sign free agents and we sign a big time CB.
I think he used to play in Oakland then okay. If we resign Nicholas, okay.
But if not we still need a DE, TE, OLB, CB.
Then no!


May 5th, 2011
3:47 pm

what if i took a crap in your moms fish tank

Waka Flocka Flame

May 5th, 2011
3:51 pm

Don’t forget that Jimmy Smith was drafted at #27 only because the botched trade between the Ravens and the Bears. The Bears were trying to trade up to nab Gabe Carimi out of fear the Chiefs (picking 27th) would have drafted him. No Chiefs at 27 means no trade which means Baltimore drafts Smith at 26!


May 5th, 2011
3:55 pm

if we dont get a cba worked out and use the 2010 fa rules of 6 years of service, then there is not much in fa. check out this list and look at the de position. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d81fa9321/article/unofficial-list-of-potential-2011-free-agents?module=HP_headlines&module=HP_headlines and yes i still think this was a great pick!

Outside Observer

May 5th, 2011
3:59 pm

I believe I saw somewhere that if the Falcons had kept their pick, the top guy on the board would have been Carimi. Julio seems like a much better pick to me, and much safer, than anyone else we could have picked.


May 5th, 2011
4:04 pm

Jimmy Smith will probably be a stud Cb in 2 years size speed instincts. Also I feel like gregg little will be just as good as JJ and AJ green. If little turns out to be a similsr player to bolden which i think he will be then this turns into a bad deal for my falcons. for the trade to be seen in a positive light Jj will have to be the next randy moss. J sheeard will be a beast watched a few Pitt games and he would hv looked nice in a falcons uni-no looking back now though we have our picks now lets play sum ball………Go

ATL sports junkie

May 5th, 2011
4:08 pm

The REASON the falcons didnt trade up to select a defender was because dimi and smith “didn’t veiw any defender in the draft (other than von miller) as a true playmaker”. With that said, the natural assumption is that they shored up the O through the draft and will address the D through FA. Dimi is way more knowledgeable about football than ANY of us. Rodgers will be an electric situational back and Dent could start at linebacker right away. BY THE WAY, LEDBETTER, DO YOU SEE ROGERS RETURNING KICKS/PUNTS FOR THE FALCONS?


May 5th, 2011
4:15 pm

For a franchise that has never won a Super Bowl but is very close to doing so, this trade had to be made. Those guys that were mentioned above are not game changers, Julio Jones is a game changer. The Falcons will pick what they need defensivly in the FA market. I applaud Dimitroff to have the stones to roll the dice and see what happens. Sometimes in life you need to do something bold to achieve and get what you want.

And lets get off the Green Bay game, it was a fluke. The Falcons just ran in to a buzzsaw in GB. They were clicking from top to bottom and were playing the best of anyone which in the end is why they won the SB. The Falcons were just unlucky to have to play them right out of the gate. I am not as concerned about the defense as some of you are b/c I think the GB game was an abbiration.


May 5th, 2011
4:36 pm

The picks next year are going to hurt because the Falcons are not going to make the playoffs. Their window with that offense has passed. They better throw more deep balls next year, or Ryan is going to have several INTs. I hope the best for the Birds (I’m a Giants fan), but Ryan weak arm is showing. He reminds me of Chad Pennington.

P. Bull Terrier

May 5th, 2011
4:39 pm

Next time we need a WR to pick up a defender and bench press him 20 times, we’ll regret not getting Greg Little. Instead we’ll just have to settle for Julio Jones running past the defenders and catching the ball.

Tech Tony

May 5th, 2011
4:39 pm

I was on the fence on the deal at first glance but the more I think about it, the more I like it. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jones has a world of potential; my objection was that under TD, the team had a stellar record of plucking some real gems in the middle to later rounds and the deal deprived them of that opportunity. At that, however, I still think they got some gems: Rogers seems like an ideal change of pace 3rd down back and guard Andrew Jackson was highly touted before being injured most of last year.

It might not even be this year that this trade brings about its whole desired effect but at this time next year I have a feeling that picking Jones will go a long ways towards softening the blow when Tony Gonzalez retires.


May 5th, 2011
4:40 pm

It’s like you said, we really won’t know until we see what the production from the guys that were on the board when we should have drafted. I am optimisitc, and by no means do I think I am smarter than the Falcons GM, so as for right now, I still think that this was the right move.


May 5th, 2011
4:41 pm

It’s very simple: Getting Julio Jones was paramount because there wasn’t another player on the board that could be more of a difference maker for the Falcons than Jones. The deal had to be done and kudos to the Falcons brass!


May 5th, 2011
4:44 pm

The team is full of young players on defense, very young. Does it make that much sense to put another couple of rookies on that defense or go get some proven veterans in FA when they need immediate help while they wait on guys to grow?


May 5th, 2011
4:46 pm

There are only so many roster spots. So, the trade tells me that the Falcon’s are comfortable with the players they have now and didn’t feel a need to take on more rookie projects.


May 5th, 2011
4:46 pm

LOL @ a cowboys fan saying anything about any other team and what they do in the draft. There are plenty of issues on thier own team for them to focus on. If you’re a Cowboys fan, you should be more worried about your OWN front office. Nepotism much?