Bill Belichick Advised the Falcons to Draft Jonathan Baldwin, not Julio Jones
By Adnan Ikic
The Atlanta Falcons will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51. Things may be different had the Falcons once taken Bill Belichick’s draft advice.
Julio Jones is arguably the best wide receiver in football. He has the highest receiving yards per game average in NFL history is the Atlanta Falcons most talented player. Most important, Julio Jones helped lead the Atlanta Falcons to Super Bowl 51.
The Atlanta Falcons payed a hefty price to trade up and draft Julio Jones back in 2011. The part of the story that is often forgotten is where Patriots head coach Bill Belichick advised Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff against making that trade.
According Michael Holley’s book, “War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team”, Bill Belichick told Dimitroff not to make the trade, feeling that the Falcons were giving up too much in trade. Belichick’s advice to Dimitroff was to stay put at pick 27 and select Jonathan Baldwin out of Pittsburgh.
Thomas Dimitroff pulled the trigger on the trade anyways, sending the Cleveland Browns a first, second, and fourth round pick in 2011 and a first and fourth round pick for 2012.
It’s interesting to consider how different things would have turned out for the Atlanta Falcons, had they selected Jonathan Baldwin. Holley wrote that Belichick felt Baldwain was “just as good, if not better” than Jones. Baldwin has accumulated 44 catches for 607 yards and two career touchdowns. He’s a receiver with a lot of raw ability, but certainly not the All-Pro that Julio Jones is today.
Atlanta made the Julio Jones move in order to get more explosive on offense. It came months following the 2010 Divisional Round shellacking at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. With how well Julio Jones has played, it’s safe to say that he was well worth the investment.
The Jones trade-up was a huge gamble to say the least. It’s the type of trade that normally costs a GM his job if it doesn’t pan out. So of course Dimitroff, the former director of scouting with the New England Patriots, called his former employer (Belichick) to ask him for his advice.