The Atlanta Falcons aren't used to being the story of the NFL Draft. Other than their trade up to pick Michael Vick in 2000 and their choice of Matt Ryan over Glenn Dorsey in 2008, when's the last time you were aware the Falcons were even involved in the April swap meet?
With their aggressive trade to pick up Alabama Crimson Tide WR Julio Jones, however, the Falcons assured themselves of this draft's biggest surprise. Not necessarily that they traded up to get a big-name player, as the team's current administration has given up a lot to get Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez and Dunta Robinson in recent years, plus given Matt Ryan one of the biggest contracts in NFL history before he'd played a down. The amazing part was how much they gave up.
Losing two draft picks for both this year's draft and 2012's, Jones must become an All-Pro for this draft to be considered as a success. But when you really break it down, I don't think the trade is as drastic as it initially seemed to my fellow Falcons fans.
The team walks away from Radio City Music Hall with two instant starters (Jones and specialist Matt Bosher), two instant contributors (LB Akeem Dent and RB Jacquizz Rodgers) and a pair of possible backups along the line. How many teams can say they gained that sure of a draft in just six picks? Some teams didn't even finish with six picks of any sort.
Don't get me wrong; the trade is terrifying. If some combination of Ryan and Roddy White and John Abraham gets hurt in 2011, that lost first-rounder pick could be a top-10 selection. If the team loses two or more starting offensive linemen in free agency, that other dealt draft pick could hurt even more. If Jones busts ... let's not even think about that.
But after three days to reflect on Thomas Dimitroff's record while watching five very safe and sensible picks join the Jones gambit, the Peach State is breathing a little easier. It is doing this because it's one day closer to college football season and is not aware of there being a NFL team here. So, great! What's the problem, then?