The Julio Jones trade

Posted: June 3, 2013 in Football

DISCLAIMER: The following post regards professional football. If you are not interested in pro football, then please disregard this post.

Arthur Blank

Arthur Blank

In April of 2011, Arthur Blank (owner of the Atlanta Falcons) spearheaded a trade between the Cleveland Browns and the Atlanta Falcons football teams for the Falcons to move up in the first round of the NFL draft in order to draft highly-coveted Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. In doing so the Falcons received the Browns 1st round pick (6th overall) and the Browns received the Falcons 1st round pick (27th overall), 2nd, and 4th round pick for the 2011 season, as well as the Falcons 1st and 4th round pick in the 2012 draft. After a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs to move up to select DT Phil Taylor in the 2011 draft, the Browns’ haul includes: defensive tackle Phil Taylor, from Baylor (1st round pick 2011), wide receiver Greg Little from North Carolina (2nd round pick), Owen Marecic, fullback from Stanford (4th round pick), and 1st round pick (2012 draft) Trent Richardson, running back from Alabama (the 4th round pick received from Atlanta for the 2012 draft was part of a package deal for Cleveland to move up into the number 3 spot in round 1 to select Trent Richardson). Atlanta surrendered five picks to acquire one man. Did they make the right choice? Is Arthur Blank a lunatic? Let’s look at the numbers.

Julio Jones, Wide Receiver has totalled 2,157 receiving yards with 133 receptions, 18 touchdowns at 16.2 yards per reception in 28 starts in his first two seasons in Atlanta. That’s an average of 1078.5 yards receiving, 66.5 receptions, 9 touchdowns per season, or per 14 starts. That’s a lot of production out of a young wide receiver who has steady competition between Roddy White and the ageless Tony Gonzalez.

Julio_Jones_catching_a_pass

Julio Jones

Cleveland Browns first 1st round pick, Phil Taylor has 23 starts, 49 total tackles, 5 sacks, 1 pass defended, and 1 forced fumble in his first two seasons. Not bad for an interior d-lineman.

521px-Phil_Taylor

Phil Taylor

Greg Little, wide receiver, the 2nd round pick, totalled 28 starts, 114 receptions, 1,356 yards receiving with 6 total touchdowns at 11.9 yards per reception.

547px-Greg_Little_2012

Greg Little

Owen Marecic, fullback, 4th round pick, totalled 6 starts in two season in Cleveland. Presumably Marecic’s impact in cleveland has been statistically insignificant. Fullbacks rarely get in the spotlight in the NFL, but Marecic is starting less than 1/5th of the time for Cleveland, meaning he is not considered a major asset to the offense.

Owen_Marecic

Owen Marecic

The Browns used the late round first pick as motivation for Minnesota to move from 3rd overall to 4th overall, apparently paranoid that Minnesota with running back king Adrian Peterson would spend their first round pick on a running back. This seems like it would have been an awful waste, as Minnesota, even though Adrian Peterson had been recovering from injury had a quality backup in Toby Gerhart. Cleveland could have easily used that pick to take a late round talent, such as Courtney Upshaw, Janoris Jenkins, or Coby Fleener.

609px-Trent_Richardson

Trent Richardson

Richardson would still have been available had Cleveland not moved up. Cleveland netted: a solid Defensive Tackle, an above average wide receiver in Greg Little, and a backup fullback. Atlanta netted a very talented wide receiver who has allowed Atlanta’s offense to go from good to great, even without a serious answer at the running back position now that Michael Turner has aged. Jones’ chemistry with the rest of the offense makes Atlanta a perennial NFC contender even with a defense that ranked in the bottom half in terms of total yards allowed. Attempting to predict who Atlanta would have drafted had they not moved up is nearly impossible. It is feasible that Atlanta could have drafted sufficient talent produce as many wins or more as they have gotten since taking Julio Jones. But Arthur Blank had a vision for his offense that involved a star wide receiver lining up parallel to Roddy White, and he fulfilled his vision, and the Falcons’ offense is one of the highest scoring in the league, averaging 26.2 points per game, good for 7th in the league. Cleveland collected a ragtag group of players who, while they do contribute to the team, do not do so nearly as much as Julio Jones does for Atlanta.

Sources:

(http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/feed/2011-01/2011-nfl-draft/story/falcons-trade-up-for-julio-jones-in-draft-shocker-with-browns

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2012/04/browns-trade-with-vikings-move-up-to-no-3-spot-in-draft/1#.UalGtGSgmBA)

*All images courtesy of Wikimedia creative commons

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