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Issues Of The Trade That Landed Julio Jones

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WR Julio Jones has been a great player for Atlanta but with the 2013 season in shambles, would the Falcons have been better off keeping their draft picks and building the team with other players? Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.
WR Julio Jones has been a great player for Atlanta but with the 2013 season in shambles, would the Falcons have been better off keeping their draft picks and building the team with other players? Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.

With the Atlanta Falcons off to a 1-4 start, the finger pointing for who is to blame is already consuming the city of Atlanta. For a team who had multiple players calling this a Super Bowl or bust season, the Falcons will have to dig out of a sizable hole in the NFC. Injuries have ravaged the offensive line and defensive front, which were left unattended by the front office.

Falcons fans are quick to point out that the team's trade that enabled them to land WR Julio Jones in the draft has been a success, and it has. But any time a team trades five draft picks for one player, there is going to be repercussions due to the salary cap and the nature of the league.

Forget who the Cleveland Browns drafted with the picks and let’s imagine who the Falcons could have had if they held onto these picks and taken players who were available. Consider that these picks would have influenced the 2013 draft and every draft moving forward for the next several years.

2011:

Falcons first round pick (27th overall) – DT Muhammed Wilkerson – Went 30th overall to the Jets. Wilkerson has 12 career sacks in three seasons, including four sacks thus far in 2013. He can play over the nose in a 3-4 or rush from a 3-4 end position. Wilkerson dominated the Falcons offensive line in their Week 5 meeting.

Falcons second round pick (59th overall) – WR Randall Cobb – Went 64th overall to the Packers. Cobb had 80 catches in 2012 and has 25 thus far in 2013. Cobb is averaging 13 yards per catch, including a long of 67 yards.

Falcons fourth round pick (124th overall) – TE Julius Thomas – Went 129th to the Broncos. Thomas has shined as the Broncos have migrated away from older veteran tight ends. Thomas’ 27 receptions are sixth among tight ends in the league and include six touchdowns in 2013.

2012:

Falcons first round pick (22nd overall) – LT Reilly Reiff – Went 23rd to the Lions. Reiff played right tackle as a rookie but has moved to left tackle this season. Reiff would be an instant upgrade for the Falcons offensive line at either tackle position. 

Falcons fourth round pick (120th overall) – CB Brandon Boykin – Went 123rd to the Eagles. Boykin is a quality nickel corner who has started when needed in Philadelphia. This pick would have given the Falcons more options in the second round of the 2013 draft.

Projected Starters in 2013:

QB – Matt Ryan

RB – Steven Jackson

WR – Roddy White

WR – Randall Cobb

TE – Tony Gonzalez

TE – Julius Thomas

LT – Reilly Reiff

LG – Justin Blalock

C – Peter Konz

RG – Garrett Reynolds

RT – Sam Baker

Defense

DE – Muhammed Wilkerson

DT – Corey Peters

DT – Jonathan Babineaux

DE – Osi Umenyiora

LB – Kroy Biermann

LB – Akeem Dent

LB –Sean Weatherspoon

CB – Desmond Trufant

CB – Asante Samuel

S – William Moore

S – Thomas DeCoud