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.)
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