You make the call (after the fact): Was Julio Jones worth it?

If they had it to do again ... (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

If they had it to do again ... (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

The final bill for Julio Jones is about to come due, and already the Falcons have paid a heavy cost. Not only did they send five draft picks — last year’s Round 1 (27th overall), Round 2 (59th overall) and Round 4 (124th overall) selections, plus this year’s Round 1 (22nd overall) and Round 4 (118th overall) — to Cleveland for the right to move up and grab one wide receiver, but they have been pilloried in every corner for their flight of fancy.

(Well, not every corner. I still think it was a reasoned move to take a specific player of vast potential, but I’ll get into that soon.)

After the Falcons lost to the Giants 24-2 on a day in the Meadowlands when the offense didn’t scratch, Kerry J. Byrne of Cold Hard Football Facts laid the defeat at the feet of the Julio trade. (Not entirely sure how three rookies — only one of them who’d have been even a first-rounder, and that one only the 27th pick — would have overridden a 22-point deficit, but never mind.) Here was Byrne, writing for SI.com:

If you’re new to the Mighty CHFF, this Man Law tells us that wide receivers are nothing more than Shiny Hood Ornaments decorating the engine of NFL teams. They look all nice and flashy and they cause fans to “ooh” and “ahh.” But they don’t make the engine run any better.

And a bit more:

We knew it was a bad move the moment it happened, especially for a team that went 13-3 the year before but failed to win a single playoff game because of problems that were exposed so badly by the Packers. In fact, we issued Atlanta a D- in our Sports Illustrated draft grades. So we’re not engaging in a little revisionist history. The Shiny Hood Ornament Man Law told us it was an impending disaster the second the deal unfolded.

It’s not as if Byrne was the Lone Ranger on this. Raging consensus holds that the Falcons messed up last year’s draft and also this one, and it’s true Round 1 of 2012 — to be held next Thursday — doesn’t hold the same interest for us around here. When your NFL franchise lacks a first-round pick, all those mock drafts lose their shine. (They have the 55th overall pick, and then the 84th, and then not another until Round 5.)

Five-for-Julio: Was it worth it?

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But I’m wondering. We in these parts saw a lot of Julio Jones when he played for Alabama, and we had a good long look at him last season (when he wasn’t hurt). Having seen the talent, if not yet any transforming effect on the Falcons as a team, would have you made the move? Or would you have stayed at No. 27 overall last season, kept this year’s Round 1 pick and taken no risk at all?

I’ll hang up and wait for your answers. (Oh, and there’s a poll, if you’re inclined.) I’m intrigued as to what you might say because, as noted, I’m planning a longer look at the Julio trade in a bit. And I thank you, as ever, in advance.

Here, as threatened, is my take on the whole Julio Jones issue: I thought it was a good move then and think so now.

By Mark Bradley

372 comments Add your comment

Rickster

April 19th, 2012
8:59 am

No he wasn’t. But kudos are worth alot!

Mark Bradley

April 19th, 2012
9:02 am

Five-for-one kudos for Rickster.

BamaDad

April 19th, 2012
9:04 am

He had some injury problems. The QB sucked all year and the offense was extremely inconsistent with often pathetic play calling. Don’t lay it all at Julio’s feet. When he got his chances, he usually came thru brilliantly.

Jordan

April 19th, 2012
9:09 am

Yes, we could have upgraded our defense via the draft last year, but from what i saw from Julio down the stretch last season makes me think he’ll be a Pro Bowler year in and year out if he stays healthy. Besides, who would Thomas D and Smitty got with those picks anyway? Outside Ryan and Curtis Lofton their picks have been painfully mediocre (see: Peria Jerry)

BigDawg

April 19th, 2012
9:10 am

We have bigger needs on the lines and secondary!

BBQ MAN

April 19th, 2012
9:10 am

yes yes and yes.. so we coulda had 2-3 B grade players on a roster full of B types.

sansho1

April 19th, 2012
9:10 am

It wouldn’t be Julio’s fault that he’s not worth five draftable football players. And while it’s easy to watch him and be glad we have him (and I am glad we have him), it’s a failure of imagination to believe he’d be worth that much.

AlpharettaGuy

April 19th, 2012
9:11 am

BamaDad summed it up nicely. I would add this–he was a short-term gamble. Taking lineman & other pieces with the picks would have positioned the team better for long term success but they thought they were ‘there’ & needed the piece Julio brought. They were wrong/not Julio’s fault. He’s good. This team will rise or fall on the QB, not Julio. What say u, MB?

Drew

April 19th, 2012
9:12 am

I agree with BamaDad. Matt Ryan was woefully inconsistent and had to deal with bad play calling from up top – which was evidenced in the coaches’ departures.

sansho1

April 19th, 2012
9:13 am

BBQ MAN, this isn’t the basketball draft we’re talking about. There are hundreds of worthy players in every NFL draft, even if a lot of them are grunts, a resource we are currently lacking.

Samuel L. Jackson

April 19th, 2012
9:13 am

I am a little suprised people havent talked more about Julio’s injury history. He was constantly hurt throughout his career at Bama. He is a tough, tough kid that only missed minimal playing time, but the injuries to me were the red flag and the reason I don’t think he was worth all those picks. His on field production was stellar when he played but if he is constantly missing time, one has to wonder if this will be his limitation throughout his career.

F1

April 19th, 2012
9:14 am

not even Jerry Rice came in and tore up the league in his first year……… give Julio this year and Dirk this year to evaluate…………… look at the impact SALSA MAN had with the Giants last year……… if used right this year it could pay big dividends

TommyP

April 19th, 2012
9:17 am

Julio will be a Pro Bowler for the next 8 years or so….yeah, worth it.

Julio Jones

April 19th, 2012
9:17 am

I own this city of course I was worth it you haters !!!!!!!!!!!!
Roddy White Who ????
I am selling my new shirts this season WWJJD $25 Bucks

Paddy

April 19th, 2012
9:17 am

Drew…….agreed! With an upgrade in play calling we will see both Ryan and Jones get much better this season and beyond.

Richard

April 19th, 2012
9:18 am

Right now in the NFL the elite receivers (the ones that command multiple defenders) are Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson (when healthy), Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White, and maybe Greg Jennings. None of them won a playoff game last year.

The NFL rules have altered to favor the receivers. Defenders can’t touch them. With that change, selling the farm for a receiver is an insane move. Now if a receiver is the best player on the board when your pick comes up, grab him and be happy.

(RB’s are even more fun, but that’s a topic for another day.)

The Falcons problems last year were their play calling and O-Line. Not the QB/WR core.

Herschel Talker

April 19th, 2012
9:18 am

MB:

No way. Great player, will continue to get better. But we gave up too much. Kind of reminds me of the trade for me back in the day.

HT

Givehimtheball

April 19th, 2012
9:19 am

Was reading MB’s article on second-guessing last year’s draft picks worth it? I think not.. Was Julio a great pickup? I think so…

Alphare

April 19th, 2012
9:19 am

Can you imagine if Julio is with Green Bay?

Snake doc

April 19th, 2012
9:20 am

I know we live in a immediate gratification society, but, don’t you think it would be prudent to wait at least three years before declaring someone the second coming of Jerry Rice or not?

See this is the problem with the idiots in the media,they all want to be the first to declare that the next new someone is the greatest. Only in the mind of a narcissistic liberal arts major who has failed at anything truly productive in life does this make any sense.

I could list many examples of the, incl; the CEO vs Spurrier at Florida, Donnan vs. Spurrier, Michelle Wie ad on and on so forth and so on.

These self professed savants and self described makers of kings are idiots.

Just wait 3 to 4 full seasons and than we will know if Julio, Heyward or others are truly great. Of course the followers of this world will always follow those whom profess to be more intelligent, not matter the facts otherwise!and than we

no way

April 19th, 2012
9:21 am

impossible to justify the move. Even if JJ turns out to be an All Pro, they still gave up too much to get him. How many wide receivers in history have been worth so much? Would be nice to see a hole filled this year

Dimitroff's Folly

April 19th, 2012
9:21 am

The impact from lack of draft picks can be minimized via free agency. But the Falcons did squat in that area this year. This season’s lack of free agent pickups following last year’s Julio scheme is what horrified me. Now the Falcons have a Joe Johnson situation… One guy who isn’t a superstar and a bunch of surrounding guys who can’t get you past the first or second round of the playoffs.
Now, if the Falcons could have gotten AJ Green, as Arthur wanted, we may not be having this discussion. Julio showed flashes, AJ was a star.

Borodawg

April 19th, 2012
9:21 am

If the trade for the Bengals spot and AJ Green had been completed I would say maybe it was worth it. Simply for his ability to make a QB that much better with his ability to catch uncatchable balls. For Julio definitely not worth it, I don’t see a huge difference between him and Roddy White. Neither are game changers in the Red Zone.

Snake doc

April 19th, 2012
9:22 am

sorry about the typos. Its my fault, but I do need a new keyboard

Samuel L. Jackson

April 19th, 2012
9:23 am

F1,

Do you know the difference between Cruz and Jones? Cruz was an undrafted FA which speaks more to the point that you don’t have to give up the farm for a big time playmaker like the Falcons did with Jones

Gradybaby

April 19th, 2012
9:23 am

Very worth it. The only bad part of the deal was the it exposed the weak arm Matty Popsickle. I attended many games last year to see our receivers slow down to attempt to catch underthrown balls. The other thing is the continual lack of a balanced attack in the running game. The pounding game of using Turner is dead. Creativity in our offense is overdue.

Alphare

April 19th, 2012
9:27 am

AJGreen? Really? what has he achieved, college or Pro?

AJGreen is very predictable: run-turn-jump-catch. If his defenders know this pattern of his, he won’t do as good as in his college days.

falconfever

April 19th, 2012
9:28 am

Let’s ask that question in 2013 when Juliooooooooo has the Lombardi Trophy in his hands in NO……… Named MVP of the game

MaxxFalcon

April 19th, 2012
9:31 am

It was actually 4 for 1, as we did receive a 1st rd pick out of it, negating the loss of the 2011 1st rd pick. Was it worth it? Well, Julio Jones is a physical freak who is just about to enter his athletic prime. He is a legitimate threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. I think he will be the focal point of our offense in the future. It is too early to tell, but I think that Julio is a franchise player and that the trade will prove to be worth it.

Borodawg

April 19th, 2012
9:32 am

Alphare, what has Julio Jones accomplished college or Pro? Are you telling me that AJ Green had nothing to do with Andy Dalton being as good as he was?

Eric

April 19th, 2012
9:33 am

YES!!! He will be an elite receiver very soon, similar to Calvin Johnson. He’s tossing defensive backs around like kids in his rookie season, he’s only gonna get stronger. He’ll be the face of this organization in the next few years.

FalconFan12

April 19th, 2012
9:36 am

R u kidding me??? YES he was worth it…. That’s what plagued the falcons two years ago ago was hat they didn’t have someone opposite roddy….the only position I wouldn’t trade up for is OL… U can find good OL in the later rounds of draft, other than that Im all for trading up and getting an impact player… People will realize within the next couple of years that this was a good move..now can we please trade grimes… He is not worth 10 mil this season he gets beat way toooooo much!

1eyedJack

April 19th, 2012
9:37 am

I think you have to wait until after Julio’s third year in the league to totally judge this trade. Right now the balance is on the debit side of the ledger.

real fan

April 19th, 2012
9:39 am

There are no guarantees in the draft . And if you ask me ,anything after the first 10 are a complete crap shoot. So what did we really lose here. A handful of two dollar lottery tickets for a pro bowl receiver.Not bad if you ask me . Not to mention Roddys numbers were way down last year as teams rolled coverages his way. Should be interesting to see how they play us next year. Would love to see this team play more aggressive though. Im hoping the coaching change will give us a fresh look at the talent we already have.

vote now

April 19th, 2012
9:39 am

I told You So

April 19th, 2012
9:40 am

Trading five picks to move up and pick Julio was a terrible strategic blunder that serves as a testament to the fact that Dimitroff is a rookie who is mentored by a proven idiot, McKay. And that is not a knock on Julio, who has the potential to be a Hall of Famer. You could have put Superman at WR for the Falcons last year and it would have done no good. The play calling was horrid, there was no O-line to provide protection, Turner at RB is an antique who poses no threat and Ryan looked like a deer in headlights. Why buy a Ferrari if you do not have and can not afford the parts to drive it? Trading up to draft Julio was a stupid move that speaks to the ignorance of McKay and inexperience of Dimitroff. It was a move that did not address glaring needs and shortcomings and they paid a multi-year price. Like you said, who in Atlanta gives one hoot about this year’s draft. Even my rabid, teenage, football crazed sons have not so much as mentioned the Falcons or the draft. Given his drafts and free agent signings to date, with the likes of the Julio trade, Sam Baker, Dunta, etc. I would give Dimitroff a C- at best.

Driver 8

April 19th, 2012
9:40 am

Julio is good but no, not worth what the Falcons gave up. They have way too many needs to give up 2 drafts for 1 player. Why mortgage everything on a deep threat when your QB can’t throw deep??

PoolerSpirit

April 19th, 2012
9:42 am

Don’t know if he’s the next Jerry Rice, though I’m fairly certain he’s at least the next Randy Moss… hopefully the change at Offensive Coordinator will prove the value of this trade this season.

Liberty Media is evil!

April 19th, 2012
9:44 am

If your team goes 13-3, and is exposed by a Packers offense, what do you do to help your defense?

Get a wide receiver!

Now you tell me this. If Jones is such a great player why did we resign Douglas?

Not only did the Jones trade ruin last years season, but it hindered this years free agency. Why do you ask? Because our team had to pay for our same ole veteran defense players and we had no space for new players. You get defense players in last years draft, instead of a wideout, and you have young players with small salaries. With the salary cap room we wouldve had this year we couldve gotten a replacement for our old running back and our old pass rusher.

Oh and Matt Ryan is deadly within 5 yards. After that not so much.

You can spin it any way you want but the Jones trade was probably the worst in Falcon’s history.

Supes

April 19th, 2012
9:44 am

Too soon to tell Mark,

you should give Julio 3 FULL seasons before “evaluating” this move by the Falcons.

I will say I like what I’ve seen out of Julio, I think by year 3 he’ll be an ELITE WR!

Najeh Davenpoop

April 19th, 2012
9:44 am

Julio is a good enough player to where he may have been worth that much to some team. That team, however, is not the Falcons. Considering their lack of playmakers at other positions, particularly on D, and their lack of a quarterback who can complete deep passes, it made little sense to mortgage their future to get a deep threat WR, as good as Julio is.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 19th, 2012
9:45 am

I also think Dimitroff thought the Falcons were one piece away from a Super Bowl, which was probably his rationale for making that trade, and clearly this was a major miscalculation on this part.

aprilglaspie

April 19th, 2012
9:47 am

If he could only catch a football.

PoolerSpirit

April 19th, 2012
9:48 am

Let’s put this to bed… again… the trade was not a four for one… we gave up five picks, we got one pick for them… hence, five for one… Duh….

Steelers

April 19th, 2012
9:50 am

I hope Julio keeps reading these articles and leaves this crappy team. I would love to have him!

Steelers

April 19th, 2012
9:51 am

Also I would trade at least 3 picks to get him…

Calibre Springs Dawg

April 19th, 2012
9:52 am

The goal was to trade up to get AJ and when the option fell through we were left with Julio. To me the jury is still out…but that’s still a grip of picks to give up. With a lot of us being from GA we would not have this discussion if it were Green and not Jones. Just sayin…

Rell

April 19th, 2012
9:52 am

Yes he was worth it. And Atlanta really didn’t give up 5 picks. We swapped first and second round picks and gave them 3. But people forget that Roddy White is what 30/31? We needed to bring in another WR. Plus Julio almost had 1000 yards receiving and he missed 2-3 games.

Cannonball Butler

April 19th, 2012
9:53 am

If you use your #1 draft picks on the Pariah Jerry’s of the world you may as well trade them all

GDawg

April 19th, 2012
9:54 am

Yes he was worth it to all others who think he is not you are not bright.