Was Julio Jones Worth It?

It’s draft season and there’s lots of talk about who the Packers could take. Naturally, everyone wants a big name stud – even if it means trading up. While it’s fun to think about pushing all the chips in to get a top talent, the question that needs to be asked is: is it worth it?

Let’s look back at one of the biggest blockbusters in recent memory to see how things went years later.

The Falcons made big waves when they traded up to get Julio Jones a few years back in one of the biggest draft day trades of all time.

But… it was a receiver. Can that really be worth it?

For starters, look at the nature of the position. A great wide receiver is not a prerequisite for a title. Sure, great receivers win titles, but not by themselves. Every great receiver that has won a title has had a great team around him – receivers simply cannot impact a game they way other positions can.

And what has this particular receiver done to help his team win a title? 

In 2018, they didn’t even make the playoffs.

In 2017, he dropped an easy ball on the last play of the Divisions Playoff game against the eventual Super Bowl champion Eagles.

In 2106, he actually made it to the Super Bowl and on the biggest stage, he mustered four catches and watched as his defense let the Patriots rattle off 31 straight points when there was only 17:06 left in regulation. During the stretch, Julio came up with 1 catch on 1 target – the Patriots D took him away. Why? Because he’s just a receiver.

Despite his shortcomings in the playoffs, I still think he’s been the best wide receiver in football for years. As much as I hate the phrase and throw up in my mouth even typing it, he’s a matchup nightmare. Size, speed, athleticism, catch radius, he’s just a dominant receiver.

But was he worth the price?

The Falcons gave up a 1st, 2nd, and 4th round pick in 2011 plus a 1st and 4th in 2012 to take Julio Jones… a wide receiver.

The best receiver in the game, sure, but was he worth it?

As I’ve said before, drafting Wide Receivers in the first round is silly and it’s been proven that that’s not How Champions Draft. I’m a believer that defense wins championships, so let’s imagine the Falcons held on to all those picks and focused on defense instead – here’s who they could have ended up with for all those picks:

2011 – 1.27 All Pro DE Cameron Heyward

2011 – 2.59 All Pro LB Justin Houston

2011 – 4.124 All Pro CB Richard Sherman

2012 – 1.22 All Pro S Harrison Smith

2012 – 4.118 All Pro CB Josh Norman

Now, maybe the Falcons offense would suffer a little, but what if half of their defense was made up of All Pros? Would if they had Cam Heyward and Justin Houston rushing the quarterback while Richard Sherman and Josh Norman clamped down receivers and Harrison Smith roamed the back end?

Could that have had more of an impact than Julio Jones? Maybe they could have stopped the Patriots once in their last five drives and found a way to replace Julio’s 4 catches and 0 TDs.

Maybe.

I think Julio Jones is the best receiver in the game, but it’s foolish to use a first round pick on a wide receiver.

Using a premium top 5 pick on a receiver? Absolutely ridiculous.

Giving up what the Falcons gave up to get one? Absolutely bonkers!

Now, if the Falcons want to move up to the Packers pick to take his replacement, I’d be all ears.

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Check out our PFTW 2020 Mock Draft Archive to see how other scenarios played out!

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