When the Atlanta Falcons traded up 21 spots to nab Alabama receiver Julio Jones they knew they’d have to give up a lot of picks in this year’s and next year’s drafts. Yet so many media outlets have pegged this as a do or die pick, that if it doesn't work out the Falcons are essentially up the creek without a paddle.
This judgement though is based purely on the notion that the Falcons never had depth before this draft. That is a complete fallacy. Three years prior to this Atlanta has built substantially through the draft, some players have seen the field little if at all.
The aspect that startles most is how out of character a move this is for Thomas Dimitroff and his merry band of men. The past three seasons, the Falcons front office has patiently built through the draft acquiring a number of picks in the process. They have their platform established and in turn decided that it was time to make a move in this year's draft. It makes sense now, more than ever, for Atlanta to move up the board. Sure, now they have a lot less picks than before, but they already have the depth they wanted that the picks would’ve provided in the first place.
Criticizing this as a "dumb move" is very naïve. The defensive depth in this draft is plentiful for any move after Thursday to be made up the board. Yes, the Falcons did indeed suffer a humiliating defeat in the playoffs that saw the defense disappear. Using this as your case argument against the move is stupid and far too convenient for the uneducated. What many do not understand is that over the entirety of the season Atlanta generated a somewhat decent pass rush. They were 20th in sacks, 4th in interceptions and 11th in pass defense. If you take a larger sample the Falcons weren’t terrible on defense, it just so happened that the Packers were playing better football at that time of year.
It feels odd to defend a move based on one game, but that’s the naivity of the football community at large.
The Falcons have Kroy Biermann, Chauncey Davis and up and comer Lawrence Sidbury (a developmental project) opposite John Abraham. Some have argued that Biermann was one of the best pass rushers in the entire league (he just didn’t get to the quarterback as often as he should). Sidbury has been working on the nuances of the game in his rookie season and looks to make more of an impact heading into the future. Let’s not forget though, Peria Jerry and Sean Weatherspoon, both former first round picks played sparingly last season due to injuries.
Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith and their staff firmly believe in the players they have. They may have given up a lot of goods to help build for future depth, but why bother when they already have three years prior? It was time to make a splash, and to move up 21 spots you need to give it up. The Falcons did and have a playmaker. If you can’t handle that then perhaps you should understand where the Atlanta Falcons have been and where they are going.