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.