Jan 1, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) breaks past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense on his way to a touchdown during the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE

Draft Trades, Trade Value, & The Atlanta Falcons

The sentence and phrase is beaten like a dead horse: ‘The Atlanta Falcons traded a king’s ransom to trade up in the draft for Julio Jones.’ You can’t possibly read a mock draft without the idea at least being alluded to, whether it is stated the Falcons gave up a lot, or that the Cleveland Browns executed a genius move to add draft picks by moving back in the draft. You know the costs. A swap of first rounders, and the Browns also received a 2nd & 4th round pick in 2011, as well as Atlanta’s 1st & 4th in 2012, just for the opportunity to trade up 21 spots. It seems like a lot, because it certainly is, especially for a player who is not a franchise quarterback.

The Falcons are not yet in a situation where this trade no longer affects their draft standing, but they are closer to escaping its effects than other teams in the league are. Conventional wisdom says that since the Rams currently have their franchise QB (Head Coach Jeff Fischer and new GM Les Snead both are standing steadfast behind Sam Bradford) and have no need to use their No.2 overall pick on a QB. With other teams in the league absolutely starving for help at the quarterback position, the Rams are in an unprecedented position. The top two players in the draft are both quarterbacks, and will both be gone by pick #3. The #2 spot become crucial in this year’s draft.

Enter the Cleveland Browns into the 2012 draft intrigue. They hold first round picks at spots No. 4 & No. 22. Given the remarkable talent that Robert Griffin III is, the Browns would be most remiss to not take advantage of the situation and use those picks to vault themselves to the No. 2 spot overall to draft that ‘franchise quarterback’ Other teams might have to mortgage picks from future years to match the value that the Rams are requesting for a trade; the Browns would hypothetically only need to use picks from THIS year, and be free to use all of their picks next year. Several reports have surfaced that the Rams would require a pair of 1st round picks, and a 2nd/3rd or a player.

We can bring this full circle by looking at the Falcons, and why exactly it took 5 picks to trade to the No. 6 spot, whereas the Browns could trade up to #2 for only (potentially) three picks.

I think the answer is about value of the spot, and number of spots that needed to be moved up. 2011′s draft had two elite receivers in Julio Jones and A.J. Green. They are not franchise quarterbacks either, but for a team desperate for another elite outside receiver like the Falcons, they could be extorted for that No. 6 spot. Add the fact that they were moving up 21 spots as opposed to (again, potentially) two spots for the Browns (who are also desperate for a player, only this time its a franchise quarterback) and we can understand why there is such disparity between the two draft trades.

The Falcons might have gotten taken for at least one pick too much, but the Atlanta front office (and fans too) are very proud and happy with Julio Jones and the wonderful things he will do in the future of this franchise. While the Falcon’s role in these draft trades is almost over, the repercussions on the NFL will be felt for years, if not decades, to come.

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  • jimbo102867

    Yeah but its not only 2 picks, really if the browns first pick were in the teens ok maybe worth it. But with another viable option in the draft and Barkley and Jones coming out next year, the Browns would be remiss to make a trade and pass up the oppertunity to draft star calber players the likes of Richardson, Clayborne and Blackman. Plus the potential book end right tackle they could pick up at #22 this year, not to mention already already having missed out on Jones last year. Then instead of drafting someone like Stephan Hill or Chase Minnifield in the third, The browns have to stretch for an offencive lineman to make sure there new franchise QB stays healthy. So here we are with RGIII + 0 weapons = early pick next year and another discussion about the Browns needing a franchise QB cause RGIII didn’t get the job done or worse was hurt after just a couple games.
    If he is there at 4 you could take him or better yet trade that pick to a desperate team Washington, Seatle, etc for additional picks then take a QB in the middle rounds for competition for McCoy. That way you can get your RT and Guard plus a #1 caliber WR and a RB to either replace Hillis or compliment him and still have the picks to get starting quality DE and OLB. 

  • Greg Huseth

    You’re right. If the HC, GM, everyone on staff knew that they wouldn’t be fired if they didn’t do something to produce more wins immediately, they would have time to build this team. But since they answer to somebody else, they will be compelled to draft a Qb, someone who will be the face of the franchise etc. I hear what you’re saying though.

    Secondly, it would be nice for Cleveland to just sit back and wait at No. 4 for RGIII, but what if someone else moves up and takes him? That’s another reason that keeps the price high, and a reason I failed to touch on. If say, Washington wanted to trade up for RGIII, Cleveland wouldn’t be able to with their no. 4 pick. Whoever gets RGIII will have to trade up to get him, because they probably won’t be able to get him with their original pick.

  • okfine69

    The reason atlanta had to give up so much(besides the fact that the browns had a much higher pick to give up)is because of this. Understand that cleveland is trying to go from bad to good, while atlanta is attempting to go from good to great.
    The way the nfl is set up makes it much harder to be great so teams have to be creative. Atlanta was convinced that we had enough good players,but we needed play maker,thus it cause them to be willing to give up picks where we most likely would pick up more “good” players. On the other side cleveland was willing to give up the play maker because they were desperate to get more good players. Reason being a play maker is worthless to a team that doesn’t have any players around him.
    When you look at it like this both teams got what they wanted,thus it is a win-win.

  • Greg Huseth

    Well as an update, the Redskins traded three first round picks and a second rounder to the Rams to draft RGIII. Talk about a ‘kings ransom’

  • Greg Huseth

    Also, the Falcons part in draft trade history for the 2011 draft is coming to a close much sooner than expected. It could shape the NFL landscape for years, but probably not like the trade that actually happened will