Falcons pick right time to make big move, get Julio Jones

Julio Jones will help the Falcons open up their offense after averaging nearly 15 yards per catch at Alabama.

Julio Jones will help the Falcons open up their offense after averaging nearly 15 yards per catch at Alabama.

(Originally posted: 9:13 p.m. Updated: 10:30 p.m)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Last week, I had a private conversation with a general manager (guess who?) of an NFL team (duh) about his team’s draft plans. Because of what just happened, I feel safe in concluding that the Falcons’ Thomas Dimitroff won’t mind if elements of that conversation now go on the record.

Me: “Go get A.J. Green. He’ll probably have the greatest impact of any player in the draft.”

Dimitroff: “How do you think people would react?”

Me: “More than half will love you. The rest will think you spent too much and should draft for defense. But I’m guessing you won’t do it.”

Dimitroff: “Why not?”

Me: “You won’t want to trade that much for one player. You’re conservative.”

Dimitroff: “Hah! So what you’re saying is, if I make a trade, you’ll write that you goaded me into it.”

Me: “Yeah, probably.”

We laughed, and I eventually hung up the phone believing Dimitroff would stay at 27th, at best moving up five picks for a defensive player he liked. I was wrong about Dimitroff. He’s not conservative. He rolled the dice and made a move that, while expensive, was a risk worth taking. The Falcons dealt a boatload of draft picks to Cleveland Thursday night to jump up 27th to sixth in the first round, where they took Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.

The Falcons needed to make a splash after the January playoff beatdown by Green Bay. Sports franchises that believe they’re on the verge of something big have a window in which they feel they can make this move. This was the Falcons’ window.

“Our feeling was where we are on the draft, where we are as a team, where we are on our roster … we felt we needed to make a bold statement as far as an impact type of player,” Dimitroff said.

Dimitroff will face some criticism for sacrificing so much for an offensive player after the Packers shredded their defense in the 48-21 playoff game. But there wasn’t a defensive player in this draft, save Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, he viewed as a difference-maker. Dimitroff’s focus has been on Green or Jones for several weeks.

“I’ve been very open about the fact that we needed to add explosiveness on the defensive side or the offensive side,” he said. “In our mind, the explosiveness we were going to get with a player like Julio outweighed what we were going to get on the defensive side. We’ll never get away from the idea that if we see something we want, we’re going to jump up and get aggressive and go after it.”

That is the attitude you want a team to have.

Dimitroff made a significant statement about the franchise’s goals and expectations. He attempted to swing a deal for a pick as high as No. 2, ostensibly to get Green. But he has known for a few days they would end up at six or seven.

The cost of moving up: steep. A No. 1, 2 and 4 this year and No. 1 and 4 next year. But Jones is a playmaker. He’s a burner. He ran a 4.39 at the NFL scouting combined despite having a fractured foot.

Alabama coach Nick Saban praised Jones, Dimitroff said: “Julio embodies what Nick coaches – hard-nosed, competes on every play, goes up for the ball, sacrifices the body and plays to the whistle.”

It doesn’t fix the defense? But it enables the Falcons to open up the offense and take over games when they couldn’t in the past.

The Falcons still have time to add pieces to the defense. But understand: It’s not like they’ve ignored building that half of the depth chart. Since taking over as general manager in 2008, Dimitroff has invested heavily first- and second-round picks and free agency on defense: Curtis Lofton, William Moore, Peria Jerry, Dunta Robinson and Sean Weatherspoon. Compare that to four early picks or acquisitions on offense: Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Sam Baker, Tony Gonzalez.

Dimitroff and the organization, still somewhat hung over from the loss to the Packers, realize they are at the point where people are going to start focusing more on the team’s postseason results (0-2) than the regular season (33-15). “That’s what adds to some of my drive at this year’s draft,” he said.

It drove him to make a big move. It was a risk worth taking.

By Jeff Schultz

Last few posts

NFL draft: Playoff hangover driving Dimitroff, Falcons

NFL draft: Cam Newton will succeed, Tim Tebow won’t

Hawks need more from Joe Johnson (whether-he-likes-it-or-not)

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

812 comments Add your comment

Bo Diddley

April 28th, 2011
9:16 pm

Bo Diddley

April 28th, 2011
9:17 pm

Ponder???????? In the FIRST ROUND????

Noodle Arm

April 28th, 2011
9:18 pm

Matt Ryan is a bust

Cousin Vicker

April 28th, 2011
9:19 pm

It’s just a horrible move. Injured, questionable hands… it just smells like desperation because we couldn’t get AJ. This wasn’t AJ 1a, Julio 1b- This was AJ 1, Julio a distant, distant second. And certainly not worth all the picks. I’ve said it all night… we just drafted Michael Jenkins all over again.

Dawg48

April 28th, 2011
9:19 pm

Why dint the falcons get Patrick Peterson he would make an immediate impact on special teams and defense seems like they needed him more than a reciever

Vixzilla

April 28th, 2011
9:19 pm

we’ll see Jeffy….we’ll see.

TD IS IN OVER HIS HEAD AS GM!

April 28th, 2011
9:20 pm

Did TD tell you how he’s planning to fix the Defense?…the team’s biggest concern?

rooster

April 28th, 2011
9:20 pm

I hope he’s worth it

Bruce

April 28th, 2011
9:20 pm

Amen Cuz Vicker.

5150 UOAD

April 28th, 2011
9:20 pm

Did they
Ponder wasting money on FSUs Ponder. I don’t see a single 1st round money QB and now there are 4? crazy

Bo Diddley

April 28th, 2011
9:20 pm

Great blog, Jeff.

See, fairweather ATL fans? THAT was informed, reasoned analysis and insight.

rivercard

April 28th, 2011
9:21 pm

” Chronologically: Linebacker Curtis Lofton, safety William Moore, defensive tackle Peria Jerry, cornerback Dunta Robinson and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. ” I doubt TD would add any of these picks/acquisitions to his resume. All C grade(or worse) players except Robinson who plays no where near what they pay him.

Bo Diddley

April 28th, 2011
9:21 pm

Ok….wait. Suh and Fairley on the same DL? Oh damn.

Skank Palin

April 28th, 2011
9:21 pm

Is Jones really 6′2″?

(seems like players and their agents like to lie about height – really all guys do)

Noodle Arm

April 28th, 2011
9:22 pm

Wow Nick Fairley and Suh on the same line!!!!! Wow

74 Dawg

April 28th, 2011
9:22 pm

They got a splash. We will see in a year if it was worth it. Even a dead fish makes a splash. I think the Falcons are the new Hawks. Hope not, don’t give a **** about biskit ball.

Why the Panic?

April 28th, 2011
9:23 pm

Falcons pick JJ and now theyre gonna lose every game! panic! panic! panic! abandon ship! jump off the bandwagon!

5150 UOAD

April 28th, 2011
9:23 pm

now if FAT MATT STIFFORD can stay up right for a season maybe the Lions will have a D that can stop another team.

Bo Diddley

April 28th, 2011
9:23 pm

@rivercard: Seriously? Consensus on Lofton is that he’s a budding star. Moore was injured but played solidly when he returned. Same with Jerry. Robinson was excellent upgrade over what we had before and too early to judge ‘Spoon, although by all accounts he is hard worker with tremendous motor and freakish athleticism. Where are you getting your info?

PMC

April 28th, 2011
9:23 pm

of course because of history we worry about giving too much up…. but we focus too much on the negative.

We just got Julio Freaking JONES!

Excellently written Jeff.

AlanFalcon

April 28th, 2011
9:24 pm

My faith in TD and Smitty is shaken, this is without question a stupid move which will haunt us for the next two years. MY PREDICTION IS HE WANT MAKE IT OUT OF TRAINING CAMP WITHOUT AN INJURY AND WILL HAVE A CAREER LADEN WITH INJURIES.

From 13-3 to 6-10

April 28th, 2011
9:24 pm

Rip

April 28th, 2011
9:24 pm

This was such a poor pick, we were almost there on defense, this is crazy, we need defense a big nose tackle, DE, a CB we have no pass rush known issue and we pick a WR and give up to much, look at the defensive players out on the board and we have no 2nd round pick, it will be so many defense players on the board at 2 round, I am sick

Bill

April 28th, 2011
9:25 pm

Great job by GM. Falcons made a statement they want to win now. Great pick! Welcome Julio Jones. Go Falcons.
Thanks Jeff.

Why the Panic?

April 28th, 2011
9:25 pm

ATL bandwagon fans in a panic! true ATL are calm cuz they trust TD.

Joe Tess Fish House

April 28th, 2011
9:25 pm

What a hugh misteak. Flacons draft a guy with a girls name.

Mr Blanks what where U thinkin?

Jason

April 28th, 2011
9:25 pm

I like Julio, but I would have rather taken the Hankerson kid out of Miami with the 27th pick and then kept the other picks. I have a hard time believing that Julio will be that much better than Hankerson.

milller

April 28th, 2011
9:25 pm

Dumbest trade in the history of the NFL. DUMB.
You just traded 2 freaking years of top picks for a #2 receiver.

From 13-3 to 6-10

April 28th, 2011
9:26 pm

Patrick Peterson could have been the next deion sanders in a falcons uniform, what a shame

Why the Panic?

April 28th, 2011
9:26 pm

@From 13-3 to 6-10, lets see, at the start of last season we had “no defense” and we still went 13-3.

Bruce

April 28th, 2011
9:27 pm

Bo too early to judge Dunn Ta? That is absurd. He is horrible and should give half his salary back for deception. Been in the league several yrs so how much more time do you give him?

Asheville Dawg

April 28th, 2011
9:27 pm

It will take a couple, maybe three years to figure out if Jones was worth it. But you got to give it to TD, he’s got some major cojhones to make this trade.

Better to try to make the major move, than try to get something worth while at 27

vafalconfan

April 28th, 2011
9:27 pm

Just an awful pick for a good (not great) wide receiver who will not get that many touches in this archaic offense. Worst pick of TDs career..

5150 UOAD

April 28th, 2011
9:27 pm

ricky williams, vince young, ryan leaf, julie jones, and fatt matt stifford

Bo Diddley

April 28th, 2011
9:27 pm

@Bruce: That’s not what I said. Go back and read it again.

From 13-3 to 6-10

April 28th, 2011
9:28 pm

Why the Panic?

April 28th, 2011
9:26 pm
@From 13-3 to 6-10, lets see, at the start of last season we had “no defense” and we still went 13-3.

Think about how close half of the falcons wins were last year???? Remember luck is bound to run out sooner than later and the GREEN BAY PACKERS exposed that defense

JB

April 28th, 2011
9:28 pm

They gave up WAAAAAAY too much.

Will Ferrell sucks

April 28th, 2011
9:28 pm

I’m still ruining the Office.

5150 is an idiot

April 28th, 2011
9:29 pm

GTBob

April 28th, 2011
9:29 pm

If Julio is amazing then we might only lose by 17 to Green Bay this year. We ruined our draft for the next two years and didn’t address our real needs. Cant say i’m real excited about the move.

Falcon Nation has spoken

April 28th, 2011
9:30 pm

This was a bad trade and I hope TD gets fired for being stupid

Coach Cheesedip

April 28th, 2011
9:30 pm

Great pick! This is what you do to make the next step to success! These later defense draft guys would not make any impact! Great pick and it will pay off!!

Joe Tess Fish House

April 28th, 2011
9:31 pm

Donta Robinson was a bad trade. He is a cheep shot artist and only had 1 INT

5150 UOAD

April 28th, 2011
9:31 pm

Hawks look like they might go farther in the playoffs than the Falcons and the Falcons had a BYE. 59-71 Hawks lead early in the 4th.

Gasgop

April 28th, 2011
9:31 pm

Great pick and he will prove it. TD what a TD!

jerry

April 28th, 2011
9:31 pm

Schultz would have supported Dimwit if he had selected Joe Cox.

Bruce

April 28th, 2011
9:31 pm

Not sure TD is the genus he is made out to be in the press. How many full time starters have we gotten since he came. Granted he is much better than what we had, but don’t see the awe that others do in him.

Bo Diddley

April 28th, 2011
9:31 pm

Ok, all you TD doubters….we’re at pick 14. DE from Wisconsin is off the board and Quinn just came off. Who would have been left at 27 who could impact the upgrade ANY position on defense to the same extent JJ upgrades the WR position? More to the point, who was available at 6 who could upgrade any position on D the way JJ upgrades WR?

Sylvan Learning Center of Clarke County

April 28th, 2011
9:31 pm

Even we admit…..Julio Jones is more of a complete player.

Dan

April 28th, 2011
9:32 pm

No great defense, no superbowl!