You would think that after having a 13-3 conference winning season, an offense that has a triple threat in quarterback, running back and wide receiver and a defense in the top half of best in the league, the Atlanta Falcons wouldn’t worry about moving up in the draft come selection day.
Perhaps, the early, embarrassing exit from the playoffs to the Green Bay Packers made the front office feel like they needed to make a bold move and go all out for one of the big names in the draft.
So, the Falcons did just that. A bold move but it comes from an organization that has been acting boldly since the drafting of Matt Ryan back in 2008. The only thing that threw me and many other people for a loop watching on selection day was that we took an offensive player.
The Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, head coach Mike Smith and owner Arthur Blank put together six weeks of research, much like their dedication and efforts in selecting Matt Ryan in ’08 and decided the Alabama Crimson Tide’s superb wide receiver Julio Jones is worth five future draft picks.
It seems that the Falcons front office is doing everything they can to bring a Super Bowl title to Atlanta. With Jones, Matt Ryan now has two deep, big-play wide receivers on both sidelines, giving Atlanta a quadruple threat on offense.
This move certainly has the potential to bolster up the Falcons offense, but any championship team is built on the backbone of a solid defense, something Atlanta could improve upon and could have done so in this draft.
Overall, the Falcons defense is in the top half of the league, but it is not a premiere NFL defense. In the first 15 picks, seven were defensive players, including Von Miller (LB), Marcell Dareus (DT), Patrick Peterson (CB) and Aldon Smith (DE); all were top 10 picks. Considering what the Falcons were willing to give up, they could have made a strong play to go after Nick Fairley (DT) or Robert Quinn (DE).
Fairley was taken by the Detroit Lions at 13th and Quinn, who I thought the Falcons would try to move up to draft, went next at 14 to the St. Louis Rams.
Going into the draft, it seemed the Falcons' most important need would be to draft an end (Robert Quinn) to play opposite and eventually replace John Abraham. After the need for a defensive end, the next spot to fill via the draft, you guessed it, a wide receiver to give Ryan another target.
The wide receiver crop was decent this year, and it would have made sense to keep their pick and select a receiver. Considering the gamble, the Falcons decided to take with Jones; they still could have gotten an end in Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers, who plummeted after knee injury concerns.
Though, injury concerns don’t seem to bother Atlanta considering Jones recently had to repair and is still recovering from a fractured foot. Despite the injury, Jones ran a 4.39 40 at the combine.
After going bold, the Falcons front office did a good job of making sure they used the rest of the draft to address team needs and get good, quality picks.