I looked at Atlanta’s draft and I was really not impressed.  I think two corners in their first 3 rounds is not the best chance to take this team over the hump.  So I looked at past picks for the Falcons and I traced everything back to a central point…  Julio Jones!!!  I know hindsight is 20/20, but lets jump into our “Time Sled” with H.G. Wells and go back and look at “if the Falcons never traded up for Julio.”  I know Falcon fans have just tuned out, but let’s take a look.

            Now I know talent like Julio is hard to come by.  Jones is in an elite group of WR talent that doesn’t show very often in NFL history, but I ask the question when was the last time a big time WR took a team over the hump?  The 49ers won a Super Bowl before Rice was part of the team.  Moss still no ring after 2 Super Bowl appearances.  You can make a case for Irving, but Irving’s athleticism is not in the same league as Moss, A.J. Green, and Jones.  So we can safely say that WR are never the missing link for Super Bowl rings.  Yet the Falcons felt Jones was?

            So we rewind to the 2011 Draft, the Falcons traded their 1 round (27), 2nd round (59th), 4th round (124), 1st (22), and 4th (118) in 2012.  Now the Falcons struggle in what areas currently in 2013?  Cornerback, Pressure on the QB, and maybe the O-line could use some tightening up.  In 2011 if they kept their pick they would have had the opportunity to get Jimmy Smith (27 pick), ESPN Scouting report on Smith:

“Smith is an excellent combination of size, strength and athleticism for a perimeter defender. His length and strength enables him to be physical to reroute receivers off the line of scrimmage. He anticipates well to jump routes in the passing game and can be a physical run defender.”

If you still wanted a WR you could have drafted Jonathon Baldwin (26 pick and that was the advice of Bill Belichick).  Now I’m picking Jimmy Smith, and as we have seen Smith has a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens, and Jonathon Baldwin is a board line bust (and Thomas Jones busted him in the eye) in Kansas City.

            Now this is where it gets interesting, because we know that “elite” or very good QB’s make the players around them better, so what if Atlanta fans would have heard, “With the 59th pick The Atlanta Falcons draft Torrey Smith.”  Again hindsight, but there is your dynamic WR, Smith can stretch the field and blow the top off of a Defense.  ESPN Scouts said:

“He has excellent burst off the line of scrimmage with run-after-catch ability in space. He has a good receiving radius but needs to improve his short and intermediate route running. Smith is an excellent, young perimeter target.”

Ask newly paid Joe Flacco the impact of Torrey Smith on the offense.  Smith was the 58th pick, one pick higher than Atlanta, what if no one would have traded with the Falcons so they could pick Smith before the Ravens?  Well Randall Cobb was the 64th pick.  Cobb could have added versatility in the return game where the Falcons are abysmal, and he would have been a change of pace third down option.  Now we are looking at CB and WR possibly being taken care of.  Yet let’s say you’re not sold on the Jimmy Smith pick.  At the 124th pick the Falcons could have drafted Richard Sherman (154).  Arguably the best CB in the league at least in Sherman’s mind.

            Now we bounce to 2012 Draft, and the Falcons had a good 2011, but yet again get bounced in the 1st round and you realize “We need help getting to the QB” so in 2012 you want to get defensive pressure.  You have the 22nd pick in the first and you target either Chandler Jones (6 sacks 3 forced fumbles in 2012), or Don’t’a Hightower (4 sacks and one fumble returned for a touchdown).  Also you traded Cleveland your 118th pick in the 4th, which could have been used on Guard Joe Looney.  Looney is a 4th round pick of the 49ers, and has only played in spots but has massive potential.  Nfl.com said this about him:

Looney is a strong interior lineman who has been consistent for the Demon Deacons since stepping on campus. He is an athletic mover who blocks well in the run game and has great size. He has fourth-round value based on his production and ability to be inserted right away.”

            Now again its easy for me to sit here and say man Atlanta Falcons messed up on drafting Julio, but in the attempt to chase a ring they forgot a key part, TEAMS win championships not one exceptional talent.  Look at our last couple of Super Bowl attendees, Ravens, 49ers, Giants, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Patriots, and the Saints what do they have in common?  They rarely trade away picks to move up for one player.  They typically trade a few spots for a player or trade back in rounds for value.  The Falcons have done this lately but in 2011 they went another direction and I feel that direction will hunt them in the long run.  Ok back to 2013 “Time Sled” and see what the future holds. 

Jason “Big J” Allen