The two best wide receivers in last year's draft were A.J. Green (4th overall, Georgia) and Julio Jones (6th overall, Alabama).
Green went to the Bengals and Jones went to the Falcons.
Green caught 65 passes for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns. Jones caught 54 passes for 959 yards and eight touchdowns.
Green made 15 starts. Jones made 13 starts.
So what's the difference? Both players had very good seasons for their respective teams, and both were able to get to the playoffs in their rookie season.
The difference (besides the city each player plays in) is that the Bengals didn't have to trade away five picks to get Green. The Falcons traded five picks to get Jones.
Here are the draft picks the Falcons traded (to Cleveland) in order to draft Jones:
- 2011 1st-round pick (No. 26 overall, which was traded to Kansas City for No. 21 overall (Phil Taylor, DL, Baylor))
- 2011 2nd-round pick (Greg Little, WR, UNC, No. 59 overall)
- 2011 4th-round pick (Owen Marecic, RB, Stanford, No. 124 overall)
- 2012 1st-round pick (No. 22 overall)
- 2012 4th-round pick (No. 118 overall)
Cincinnati didn't have to give up any of that.
And, in the second round, the Bengals selected Andy Dalton, who looks like he will be their quarterback for the next 10-plus years.
Teams that didn't exercise patience while drafting a quarterback? Tennessee (drafted Jake Locker at No. 8), Jacksonville (traded up from No. 16 to draft Blaine Gabbert at No. 10) and Minnesota (drafted Christian Ponder at No. 12).
Those teams had a combined record of 17-31 (35.4 percent) in 2011.
The Bengals went 9-7 (56.3 percent) and made the playoffs.