In a night that was full of first-round trades, the Atlanta Falcons scored unarguably the most eye-popping of the group during the first night of the NFL Draft on Thursday. Atlanta moved from the 27th spot to the sixth spot, taking Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones once they got there. But it cost the Falcons a pretty penny.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff dealt the Falcons’ No. 27 overall pick, along with next year’s first-round pick, this year’s second- and fourth-round picks and next year’s fourth round pick to the Cleveland Browns to take a player he thinks will make an immediate impact.
No doubt the addition looks pretty stellar when thinking about Jones lining up with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, but for that price? And in a megatrade that has a reference point that includes the San Francisco 49ers giving up a comparable amount to take J.J. Stokes? It’s a move that should provide plenty of office chatter well after the draft has come and gone.
Thomas Dimitroff joined 680 The Fan in Atlanta with The Rude Awakening to discuss making the trade, what he says to the naysayers who say he should’ve gone with a defensive player or that he traded too much, how Jones graded out, the process that went into making the deal, how they thought it out given the NFL’s uncertainties and where he feels the lockout and those uncertainties stand right now.
On the move to trade up to take Julio Jones in the first round of the draft:
“We all know it’s a bold move, an aggressive move. It’s something we felt, at this time, in our development as a football team, it was the best move for us and the right move.”
What about the naysayers who say if they jumped up that high they should have taken a defensive player?:
“Again, I’d say there’s obviously some fine football players on both sides of the ball. We felt, from the very beginning of this offseason, we wanted to, again, become more explosive on both sides of the ball. And we just felt the talent and the explosiveness and the play-making ability of Julio Jones over some of the other players that we were considering … that this was the impactful type of player we were looking for. Listen, I think what also has to be remembered … is it’s obviously going to be expensive when you move up from 27 to six and that’s 21 spots. But we still have six draft picks left here.”
Does the Falcons’ willingness to trade away so much to move up mean Jones got their highest grade as a receiver in quite some time?:
“Right. He was one of the guys that we targeted. We obviously targeted both of those top-notch wide receivers in this year’s draft [A.J. Green and Jones] and the two of them went, obviously, by six. One went four, one went six, and this guy, again, what we feel that he can do and what he can add … you combine him with our receiver group … I really believe that this is just going to take our offense to another progressive level.”
On the process that went into making the deal:
“We spent a lot of time on this. … This wasn’t a sort of off-the-cuff, in-the-moment, heat-of-the-battle let’s just trade up because we like this guy. We’ve contemplated this for over a month and we’ve done probably as much research on Julio as we had done narrowing down on Matt Ryan. This was a major move; we all know that. … There are a lot of owners out there who wouldn’t have granted the leeway to make such a bold move, so I appreciate that we appreciate that.”
Was it weird to go shopping given all the uncertainty in the NFL right now?:
“Yes and we sat down one last time yesterday and early in the day and discussed the financial implications and ramifications of a move like this and a move on trying to truly focus on the draft. … We don’t know what’s going to happen with free agency, so we really needed to drill down on the draft and try to provide ourselves with the kind of impact player that we wanted.”
With the lockout essentially lifted, where does he feel things sit as of Friday and Day Two of the draft? And does he expect to hear anything soon regarding the start of free agency?:
“We’re just keeping open to anything. We’ve run over the scenarios a number of times and how we would respond to something like that. You’re in the middle of the second day of the draft and free agency opens, that would be pandemonium. There would be a lot going on. … It would be a very interesting day or next two days. I’m not really sure where we are with it.”