One of the biggest moves in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft bumped the Atlanta Falcons up to No. 6, but also sent the Cleveland Browns their first round pick in 2011 and 2012, their fourth round selection in 2011 and 2012, and a second round pick in 2011.
The Falcons paid an enormous price for the rights to wide receiver Julio Jones out of Alabama who was widely thought to be the best at his position on the board.
There's no doubt that adding a playmaker like Jones to an offense already loaded with talent should push the Falcons to the top of the NFC. However, Atlanta's bold blockbuster trade doesn't make them a lock for a Super Bowl berth.
Matt Ryan will have to lead his team past the defending champs who embarrassed him in the Divisional Round at the Georgia Dome last season. Yes, having a receiver with immense talent suddenly placed in his arsenal will certainly make things easier for Matty Ice, but the Green Bay Packers' offense is still superior.
Not to mention their defense is much better and their offense will be improving as well.
Even if Ted Thompson completely fails in the 2011 NFL draft, which is highly unlikely, Aaron Rodgers and company will be welcoming back top tight end Jermichael Finley and running back Ryan Grant next season.
If Julio Jones lives up to his hype, he will become an instant threat as a starter and his presence will help free up top receiver Roddy White. If he becomes a bust, the Falcons will have given up valuable selections in the near future for nothing and will fall in the playoffs before the big game.
Julio Jones does not make the Falcons the favorites in the NFC, although they are definitely more dangerous. The Super Bowl XLV Champions are the favorites to repeat, but Atlanta will be hot on their heels and out for revenge.
Mark October 9, 2011 on your schedule because you will not want to miss a clash of the NFC's top offenses in primetime.
However, with the extra picks, the Browns may be the biggest winners of all.