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TDWII’s Post Draft Observations – Big Time Move


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On March 7th, I wrote the following:

How We Acquire Julio Jones

I’ve been clamoring for the Falcons to focus on finding a playmaker to compliment Roddy White for at least 1 year now. The primary thrust of that argument has been along the lines of if you’re going to build your franchise around Matt Ryan, you need to provide him weapons that he can take advantage of. While the 2009 acquisition of Tony Gonzalez technically qualifies, he really isn’t a weapon so much as he is a reliable professional who has served as a solid security blanket for Ryan.

So, IMO, the greatest threat to the Falcons short & long term success is to count on Ryan to try and make average to inadequate players into not only contributors, but significant threats.

I can go on about Michael Jenkins, but he is what he is…an average WR with little play making ability and for a 6’4 WR, even less physical presence.

Harry Douglas showed promise his rookie year, but it wasn’t even in the category of say what Emmanuel Sanders showed this year in Pittsburgh. While the Falcons seem to not be giving up on Douglas, he has not been the same since his ACL injury. And it’s very questionable what his ceiling actually is.

Kerry Meier also looked good last training camp, but his next catch will be his first one, and as a 5th round player, his upside also is debatable.

The problem as I see it is that our options at #27 are uninspiring. I’d sooner us the pick the best TE in the draft (Kyle Rudolph) than any WR whose likely to be available at that slot. If this were golf, we’d be in between clubs. For those who are interested in selecting a DE, ask yourself if you think grabbing the 6th or 7th rated DE on the board is something that excites anyone? The Falcons would be picking from a group that includes Adrian Clayborn, Cameron Heyward, Justin Houston or Allen Bailey. Quite frankly, and I’ve seen this echoed, I don’t really like our spot in this draft. As such you’ve got 3 options…

1) Stay put

2) Trade down

3) Trade Up

The most likely option is to stay put. 1st round trades even at the bottom of the round aren’t all that frequent. Trading down always seems to be the most desirable option because it amounts to more draft picks usually which is the NFL draftniks gold currency. But trading up? Such moves are often derided as pie in the sky fantasy and run contrary to the draftniks instinct that values draft picks over everything else. But there is someone I have my eye on, who I think even with his fairly high draft value, is underrated - Julio Jones.

7 weeks later, the Falcons saw things this way as well and I for one couldn’t be happier. The interesting thing to me now that this has gone down is that this gives Jenkins a much better chance in succeeding at a role he is more qualified for, the role of the departed Brian Finneran. And Jones…? For the next 4-5 years, he and Roddy form a potent WR combination who should both exceed 1000 yards and help to make each other better and more dangerous players And then when Roddy begins his decline, the Falcons have a ready made #1 WR (if Jones hasn’t already ascended into that role. It’s perfect!

Was the price steep? Sure it was…but at the moment this trade comes down to:

Jimmy Smith

Greg Little

Owen Marecic

Or Julio.

I know the prize for Cleveland is also next years 1st rounder, but nobody at #27 really offered the Falcons an opportunity to improve with any level of certainty. For Cleveland, the bounty of picks allows them to build a talent base and foundation we already have. It was a great move for them too. But for the Falcons who have their young stud at QB for the next 10 years – this was a must. Kudos to TD for seeing that need and doing something about it.

What’s really interesting to me is that the rest of the draft almost seemed inconsequential – and certainly anti-climactic.

With the exception of Rodgers, no one in this class stands to make much of an impact outside of special teams. Even any of the players in Round 2 we could have gotten would have filled a role for the most part – if that. And the fact is – for a 13-3 team who secured the #1 seed in the playoffs and sent 9 players to the ProBowl, that’s the way it should be.

Dent was a solid pick who had really grown his draft stock in the last 12 months. It wasn’t a sexy pick, but it was a solid one that will allow Dent the opportunity to apprentice under veterans.

The question for me with regard to Rodgers will be his ability to pass protect on passing downs. I love his quickness and he was certainly prolific and multi-dimensional in college, but he was the center of Oregon State’s offense. He won’t be here and his first priority before being a 3rd down threat, change of pace guy out of the backfield will be his ability to pick up the blitz and make the right block to protect the center of our offense.

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I've been clamoring for a true 2 or 1 receiver opposite Roddy for a couple years as a primary need (along with DE). That said, I would have called you crazy about that trade, and still am not sure I would have done it.

But it's a dire need, and if he pans out, it will open up the offense dramatically. I likely would have stood pat and taken Sherrod (OT) in the 1st, Cobb or Little in the 2nd, Alex Green or Kendall Hunter in the 3rd, and a TE/LB in the 4th adn 5th.

We still are very much missing another pass catching TE to pair with Gonzales and take over when he leaves, and I was surprised we didn't get one in the 3rd or 6th.

Otherwise, we can both breathe a sigh of relief that the FO at least saw that Jenkins wasn't getting it done and took steps to fix it. I don't think, however, Jenkins can take Finn's place, as Finn was very physical and "won at the ball" which I see as Jenkins weakness. I think Jenks will run some seam routes from the slot and burn past safeties, and also play outside some with Julio in the slot.

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I've been clamoring for a true 2 or 1 receiver opposite Roddy for a couple years as a primary need (along with DE). That said, I would have called you crazy about that trade, and still am not sure I would have done it.

But it's a dire need, and if he pans out, it will open up the offense dramatically. I likely would have stood pat and taken Sherrod (OT) in the 1st, Cobb or Little in the 2nd, Alex Green or Kendall Hunter in the 3rd, and a TE/LB in the 4th adn 5th.

We still are very much missing another pass catching TE to pair with Gonzales and take over when he leaves, and I was surprised we didn't get one in the 3rd or 6th.

Otherwise, we can both breathe a sigh of relief that the FO at least saw that Jenkins wasn't getting it done and took steps to fix it. I don't think, however, Jenkins can take Finn's place, as Finn was very physical and "won at the ball" which I see as Jenkins weakness. I think Jenks will run some seam routes from the slot and burn past safeties, and also play outside some with Julio in the slot.

For me, as big an advocate as I was for Rudolph, with the acquisition of Jones, the need for a TE of his caliber isn't nearly as severe. We do need to address the position and we could very well address it with our 2/3 pick in 2012.

As for Jenkins/Finneran, Jenkins becomes a situational big bodied receiver. Finneran had his attributes, Jenkins has his...and both have limitations. The point is though, now you can cut his snaps in half and the snaps that he does get will be more conducive to his skillet.

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For me, as big an advocate as I was for Rudolph, with the acquisition of Jones, the need for a TE of his caliber isn't nearly as severe. We do need to address the position and we could very well address it with our 2/3 pick in 2012.

As for Jenkins/Finneran, Jenkins becomes a situational big bodied receiver. Finneran had his attributes, Jenkins has his...and both have limitations. The point is though, now you can cut his snaps in half and the snaps that he does get will be more conducive to his skillet.

I know that last word was a typo, but funny given the conversation (Finn and Jenkins) and skillet hands. I agree it lets Jenks become that situational guy...I just think he'll be more finesse, less throw it up and he'll get it.

I also agree the need for TE drops, but I think having pass catching TEs is becoming pretty important as the league is getting to QBs quickly. I just hope Jones becomes a TO type (and quickly). We really REALLY need to hit big on that pick.

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I know that last word was a typo, but funny given the conversation (Finn and Jenkins) and skillet hands. I agree it lets Jenks become that situational guy...I just think he'll be more finesse, less throw it up and he'll get it.

I also agree the need for TE drops, but I think having pass catching TEs is becoming pretty important as the league is getting to QBs quickly. I just hope Jones becomes a TO type (and quickly). We really REALLY need to hit big on that pick.

as long as we got Michael Palmer we're good at pass catching TE. if it was up to me, I would package up Jenks & Dahl and see if I could get a veteran OT from somebody (Madden trade lol)

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I remember this VERY well and I must say...Well done! You were the only one who knew. I thought we would stay put and grab Kyle Rudolph who IMO was the best offensive playmaker available. My #3 team the Vikings took him.

Well done and good foresight. I know that if TD leaves any time soon and you are gone too then I have to re-think a few things...LOL!!!

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From NFP's Sunday Blitz:

NFP Sunday Blitz link

So Bill Belichick and Thomas Dimitroff are on the phone a couple hours before the start of the first round Thursday. The general manager of the Falcons asks the head coach of the Patriots, his former boss, what he thinks about the bold move Dimitroff is contemplating making: two first round picks, a second round pick and two fourth round picks to move up 21 spots in the draft to select wide receiver Julio Jones.

“You know Bill,” Dimitroff told me. “He would never have done this move. It’s just not his makeup. He talked about the value we would be giving up.”

Belichick was much better situated than Dimitroff to make a move for Jones. He had the draft picks as ammunition, and he had a bigger need for him. But that kind of trade isn’t what Belichick does.

It wouldn’t be what most decision makers do. In fact, I spoke with a number of them who questioned the deal. So I decided to ask Dimitroff, the reigning NFL executive of the year, about the criticisms.

Criticism 1: the Falcons gave up too much.

The deal was complicated a bit by the fact that players could not be included. If there had been labor peace, you can bet the Falcons would have replaced a draft pick with a player in their offer. Dimitroff won’t say it, but including Michael Jenkins in the compensation package would have made perfect sense.

The Falcons general manager studied his options carefully before pulling the trigger on Julio Jones.

That aside, the compensation package wasn’t as intimidating to the Falcons as it might appear. The only difficult thing they had to come to grips with was giving up a first round pick in 2012. The two fourth rounders they gave up, one this year and one the next, didn’t bother Dimitroff because the Falcons have a number of former draft picks who would be competing with the fourth rounders for roster spots. The Falcons have yet to decide if those players need to be replaced, or could be future starters. Trading away those picks buys them more time with the players they have already invested in.

The other nice part of the deal is for all the Falcons gave up, they still had seven 2011 draft choices after the trade.

"Hi, my name is Lawrence Sidbury and the Atlanta Falcons just put a huge microscope on me". What this also shows on Dimitroff's part is a willingness to allow projects enough time to continue to develop to see if they do turn into players. A first round DE would have likely ended any chance of Sidbury making an impact with the Falcons...by buying him another year - he gets to truly see if Sidbury can contribute.

Criticism 2: It’s not worth doing what they did for a wide receiver.

The road to the unemployment line is littered with wide receiver busts. If the Falcons were going to move up, they could have moved up for a pass rusher. In fact, if they couldn’t move up for Jones, they were set to attempt a smaller move up for a defensive end.

But Dimitroff, along with his talented lieutenants Les Snead and Dave Caldwell, did a lot of research about moving up for a defensive end versus a receiver, contemplating a trade for over a month. They noticed of all the first round defensive ends picked over the last five years, very few of them were producing double digit sack numbers.

“There are issues with receivers, no question about it,” Dimitroff said. “Our thoughts were there have been just as many busts at quarterback, defensive tackle and defensive end.”

Dimitroff is not alone in his reasoning. “I talked with some of my cohorts who are more in line with that kind of thinking,” he said. “There are certain groups in this league who philosophically are more steeped in a traditional mindset. You only draft certain positions that high, or only move up high for a player at certain positions. But there seems to be a newer order of thought. If that player is in fact impactful, a potential difference maker not only with skill set but with leadership ability, then I think there is more consideration now than ten or 15 years ago.”

This came to light late in the draft process about the success of DE's drafted in the first round since 2007 (I think Orakpo is the only success and he's a 3-4 OLB). But to my point above, who at #27 was really going to solve our pass rush issues? Quite frankly, who at #6 was going to solve our pass rush issues? Aldon Smith?

Criticism 3: The Falcons did not need Jones.

The Falcons have a run-first offense. They already had a Pro Bowl receiver in Roddy White, and another who is a fine No. 2 in Jenkins. But they set a priority of becoming more explosive offensively. “With this move, we feel we can be that much more creative with our offense,” Dimitroff said. “We are driven by the run, but we need to produce on the passing side of the game. It will help us to a certain extent, alleviate some of the tilting of the field to Roddy White, which has been done by defenses time and again.”

Even though White’s production may decrease, and Jones may not be a league leader in catches and yards, the Falcons believe they will have a more effective offense. They now easily have the most gifted pair of starting wide receivers in the NFL, which will cause serious problems for defensive coordinators.

Jones can make White more effective, and other teammates too.

Dimitroff was speaking with Alabama coach Nick Saban on Friday about Jones. “He was raving about him, and as you know it takes a lot to truly impress Nick Saban,” Dimitroff said. “He was saying skill set aside, play making ability aside, what he brings to the franchise can be profound in terms of his competitiveness and his passion for the game. You combine that with Roddy’s competitiveness and passion for the game, along with the rest of our receiver group, and I really believe this is going to be a very good boost to our progress.”

Translated: Michael Jenkins was unable to take advantage of having the field being tilted toward Roddy, so teams made that their base defense against us which resulted in us being able to complete only one pass over 26 yards in the seasons last half. And with the type of player/person Julio is - he brings alot to the field and locker room in terms of presence and setting a tone. Yes - I nailed it!

This move may work out. It may not. But it was not done without careful and reasoned thought.

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I know that last word was a typo, but funny given the conversation (Finn and Jenkins) and skillet hands. I agree it lets Jenks become that situational guy...I just think he'll be more finesse, less throw it up and he'll get it.

I also agree the need for TE drops, but I think having pass catching TEs is becoming pretty important as the league is getting to QBs quickly. I just hope Jones becomes a TO type (and quickly). We really REALLY need to hit big on that pick.

LOL - I'll not even edit it because of the IRONy!

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Awesome prediction here TDII..... I remember the thread, but I also reasonably dismissed it as I figured what we gave up would be about the asking price and I thought I would be too high. I love the addition of jones to our squad and see him as easily our solid #2 going into next season.

My question is once free agency and trades begin who go's......

Jenkins????, Douglas?????....

Finn is pretty much done already as he will not be renewed. Meier????

If any do you think we will trade any of them, and if so what kind of compensation do you think we they are worth....

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Our five receivers will be White, Jones, Jenkins, Douglas, Meier. We already know Finneran is gone, and I can (unfortunately) see us letting Weems go because of the rule change concerning kickoffs.

Personally I'd love to keep Weems as our 6th receiver, but we haven't had 6 receivers on the roster during any of Coach Smith's tenure.

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Awesome prediction here TDII..... I remember the thread, but I also reasonably dismissed it as I figured what we gave up would be about the asking price and I thought I would be too high. I love the addition of jones to our squad and see him as easily our solid #2 going into next season.

My question is once free agency and trades begin who go's......

Jenkins????, Douglas?????....

Finn is pretty much done already as he will not be renewed. Meier????

If any do you think we will trade any of them, and if so what kind of compensation do you think we they are worth....

If Finneran is already Gone, that means we have an open spot. No one has to go.

White, Jones, Jenkins, Douglas, Meier, Weems. Keep 6 like last year.

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Awesome prediction here TDII..... I remember the thread, but I also reasonably dismissed it as I figured what we gave up would be about the asking price and I thought I would be too high. I love the addition of jones to our squad and see him as easily our solid #2 going into next season.

My question is once free agency and trades begin who go's......

Jenkins????, Douglas?????....

Finn is pretty much done already as he will not be renewed. Meier????

If any do you think we will trade any of them, and if so what kind of compensation do you think we they are worth....

I don't know if any hold value in a simple exchange. Would you trade for Harry Douglas? Jenkins might have value, but if you trade for Jenkins - you trade for his contract, which IMO is overvalued.

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Our five receivers will be White, Jones, Jenkins, Douglas, Meier. We already know Finneran is gone, and I can (unfortunately) see us letting Weems go because of the rule change concerning kickoffs.

Personally I'd love to keep Weems as our 6th receiver, but we haven't had 6 receivers on the roster during any of Coach Smith's tenure.

If we do only keep 5, I think Douglas is more vulnerable than Weems. Weems is our best gunner. Douglas can return punts and little else on ST.

IMO, if the Falcons only keep 5 WR's, Meier and Douglas are fighting for a roster spot. That said, I think Weems earns a spot on ST alone so he may be counted against that quota.

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If Finneran is already Gone, that means we have an open spot. No one has to go.

White, Jones, Jenkins, Douglas, Meier, Weems. Keep 6 like last year.

Although we technically kept Meier, he was on injured reserve and didn't cost a roster spot. We only really kept 5.

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