Well, as unrealistic as most of us thought it was, the Falcons moved up last night in the 1st round to draft WR Julio Jones out of Alabama. He happens to be a guy I have been high on as far as his NFL prospects, but I never thought until around 6 pm last night that he could end up in Atlanta.
Thomas Dimitroff gave up a lot to move up, but I trust his judgment that Julio may be the piece that puts the team in the Super Bowl. His strength, speed, and size are not seen often in the NFL and I compare him to a little bigger version of Sidney Rice.
So, what did the Falcons give up and why were they able to give up so much? The swap of 1st rounders this year, 2nd/4th this year, and 1st/4th next year is a lot, but again, trust in TD.
The reason the team could afford to make this move was that they have drafted so well the past few years. The 2007 draft produced Jason Snelling (7th round), Stephen Nicholas (4th), Justin Blaylock (2nd), and Jamal Anderson (1st) that all have been and will continue to be big contributors.
In 2008, the Falcons picked a bunch of future starters with Matt Ryan and Sam Baker (1st), Curtis Lofton (2nd), Harry Douglas (3rd), Thomas DeCoud (3rd), and Kroy Biermann (5th).
The 2009 draft brought in William Moore (2nd), Chris Owens (3rd), Lawrence Sidbury (4th), and Vance Walker (7th). Last years draft produced Sean Weatherspoon (1st), Corey Peters (2nd), Mike Johnson (3rd), Joe Hawley (4th), Dominique Franks (5th), and Shann Schillinger (7th).
When you have that many draftees make your roster as starters, special teams contributors, and back-ups, you can build a team of young and talented players and gain the flexibility that the Falcons exercised last night.
Now, lets get Julio on the field and healthy for September. And hope he turns out better than the last time the Falcons traded up in the 1st round for a WR, in 2004 for Michael Jenkins.