Julio Jones: The Unfair Scrutiny

The veteran and the eager rookie.

In spite of his rather inspiring rookie season, there are still those who believe that we gave up too much for Julio Jones. So today, I'm going to do a little investigating as to how much value we gave up for Jones in comparison to the massive trade the Redskins just gave up for what we all assume will be Robert Griffin III.

This post will also take into consideration some of the greatest rookie WR seasons in history, to determine whether or not Julio appears to be on the right track to success. Please note, before you jump on my case about this, that I do not have my tarot cards in front of me so I don't know whether Julio will be a Hall of Fame WR or not.

After the jump, we'll break this down a little further, including the stats, perhaps a wee bit of theory and my opinion.

Disclaimer: I do not think anyone on this board is a hater, it is just me being silly. You have been warned.

This is gonna be my once-and-for-all as far as Julio goes. Barring a total disaster, which isn't likely, I think we'll continue to see growth in Julio. I figure it's appropriate because it's nearly draft time around these parts. Plus, if there's a debate about it, it's still on peoples' minds, and as a semi-journalist, you're supposed to write about what people are talking about.

Part 1: Draft Day Value

First, let's examine the draft. Here is the chart that is widely considered to be the "draft day value" of draft picks.

The Falcons moved up to #6 to draft Julio Jones, which is a value of 1,600 points.

They gave up their 1st round pick (#27, 680 points), their second round pick (#59, 310 points), their 4th round pick (#124, 48 points) and their 1st and 4th round picks from next year.

It is my understanding that future picks are graded at half the value of a normal pick due to uncertainty, so assuming that in both this and the Redskins' cases, all picks will remain in the same slot for easier reference.

The 1st from next year (340 points) and 4th from next year (24 points) bring the entirety of the total to...

1,402 Points. For a pick valued at approximately 1,600 points.

That gives us a Draft Trade Factor (New stat invented by me just now, lower is better for us) of .876

Looking at it from purely a numbers standpoint, we have already received the better value from the Browns than the Browns received from us. As in we ripped them off for Julio Jones.

Now, looking at the Redskins trade.

They traded to move up from #6 to #2, giving up their 2012, 2013, and 2014 1st round picks (1,600, 800, and 800 points respectively) along with their 2nd round pick, valued at 520 points, bringing their entirety to...

3,720 points. For a pick valued at 2,600 points, resulting in a Draft Trade factor of 1.431.

Basically, the Rams SUPER ripped the Redskins off. A draft trade factor greater than 1 means you gave up more than you're going to get in terms of pick value alone. Even if you cut the 2014 1st round pick in half once more (since it's two years away) that still means the Redskins gave up more than they're going to get as far as value is concerned.

Bonus trade: Jets trade for Mark Sanchez

A few years ago, the Jets traded up to get Mark Sanchez, which is still biting them in the rump today, and will continue to bite them in the rump since they decided to extend Sanchez's contract, thus showing they have no interest in winning.

The Jets moved up to #5 from #17 in 2008, giving away their 1st and 2nd round picks (950 points and pick #52, worth 380 points) as well as three players. I did a little bit of digging and couldn't find where the approximate value of the three players were, but I do know that two of the three (Kenyon Coleman and Abram Elam) do get some playing time for the Dallas Cowboys, and I think Elam has played a good bit.

Upon further review, Elam started every game for the Cowboys last year, so there's a player worth something, though he was traded to the Browns initially, as was Coleman. Coleman started 15 games last year for the Cowboys.

The value on players is weird, because you never know how much players will end up being worth. In the case of the Jets, they traded away two players who have started the bulk of their games for the past three seasons, so that right there should warrant a pretty high value.

The draft pick trade value alone is 1,330 points for a pick worth 1,700 points. Add in two defensive starters and it's clear that the Jets were ripped off by the Browns for the trade up to get Mark Sanchez. Unfortunately, that pick has yet to work out for them.

Part 1 Conclusion: As you can see, based on the two recent blockbuster trades I have discussed along with our own trade from last year, we were the only team of the three that traded up to make out with positive value based solely on draft pick value.

As "crazy" as the trade seemed, the numbers suggest we had the better value. That's Dimitroff 1, Haters 0.

Part 2: Wide Receiver Comparison

It's no secret that Julio did not have the perfect season. He had some injuries, he had some issues, but it's safe to say he was a great addition to the team.

So I thought I would compare his rookie season to some of the greatest rookie wide receiver seasons in history (as well as some familiar receiver names) to see how he matched up.

Here's an attempt at somewhat of a table:

Name Rec Yds Avg TD

Julio Jones 54 959 17.8 8 (13 games)

Jerry Rice 49 927 18.9 3

Randy Moss 69 1,313 19.0 17 (Considered to be the best rookie season ever, and rightfully so)

Marvin Harrison 64 836 13.1 8

Bob Hayes 46 1,003 21.8 12

Terrell Owens 35 520 14.9 4 (For the record, Julio had an identical season to TO's 2nd season in 3 fewer games)

Cris Carter 39 761 19.5 2 (Carter had 5 catches his rookie year, so I went with his first full year)

Larry Fitzgerald 58 780 13.4 8

Calvin Johnson 48 756 15.8 4 (15 games)

Andre Johnson 66 976 14.8 4

Anquan Boldin 101 1,377 13.6 8

Art Monk (Because why not) 58 797 13.7 3

Do I need to keep going? I'm not saying that Julio will turn into any of these men, but you can't deny that the numbers suggest that there could be something special brewing in the city of Atlanta. Now, Julio missed 3 games, and I feel like he played in one but missed most of it, which may have counted as a "game played" even though he wasn't really there. So, let's say he played 12 games worth of snaps due to lingering injuries and whatnot. Now, let's take his rookie season and theoretically give it a "what if" scenario in that he played to that level of performance the whole season:

Theoretical Julio Jones: 72 Rec, 1279 Yds, 17.8 Avg, 11 TD (10.6 rounded up)

I don't know about you guys, but that looks like that's only second to Randy Moss's rookie season, maybe behind Boldin's season, depending on how you swing. Boldin's season was kinda freakish, but he had 4 fewer YPC than Julio did. That might be because Boldin was the only guy in ARI at the time (Fitz didn't come in 'til the next year).

Folks, that's not a normal rookie season. That is a remarkable rookie season, overshadowed only by the fact that he didn't play the entire season and those were not his actual numbers.

Part 2 Conclusion: As you can see, Julio Jones's numbers on "13 games" (more on that in a moment) were on par with the rookie seasons of some of the best wide receivers that are either in the game or have played the game. While he may not ever become any of those receivers, the future is looking very bright for Julio Jones. A half-point to Dimitroff and a half-point to Haters for injuries. Dimitroff 1.5, Haters .5

Part 3: 13 games? Maybe more like 10! Making the final case that the trade was worth it

I did some more digging because I felt like the stats weren't telling the whole story. As it turns out, I believe I was correct.

Against Green Bay in Week 5, Julio had 1 catch for 16 yards with one rushing attempt. He did not play until nearly a month later (10/9 to 11/6) when he destroyed the Colts in just one half of playing.

To me, that suggests the GB game started the injury issue (my memory is fuzzy on this), so he did not play up to par against GB, and naturally, he didn't play at all until the Colts game.

After the Colts game, he recorded 2 catches for 9 yards against the Saints, and I recall him leaving that game as well. ESPN says he played against Minnesota, but he didn't catch any passes, which makes me think he didn't play much at all.

Including the Green Bay game, that makes for Weeks 5, 6, 7, 10, and 11 where Julio accrued, essentially, nothing. Bye week was Week 8.

You mean to tell me (Yes, I mean to tell myself) that this guy had nearly 1,000 yards receiving despite not getting much of anything in 5 games?! Yes, that is what I'm saying.

What more do you want him to do? The "theoretical Julio Jones" season I posted above was if he played in 12 full games, not 10. I hope I've made it clear enough that Julio Jones essentially played in 10 (Really, 9.5 considering Colts game) games this past year, not 13 as ESPN and NFL.com suggest.

Part 3 Conclusion: As you can see, Julio's numbers as represented by ESPN and NFL.com (no hate intended, just pointing this out) are a bit misleading. Julio's numbers are essentially from 9.5 games worth of action, which is truly a remarkable feat. Almost no receiver has had a potential season such as that in that few games. Point to Dimitroff. Not only did he do his homework, but he may have gotten someone better than even he thought. I don't believe the haters can do much against this other than hate. Dimitroff 2.5, Haters .5

Part 4: The Counterarguments

I'll briefly go over these because I think they need to be addressed.

1) He has Roddy White. True, but Roddy White also dropped a bunch of passes, including a bunch of open passes. Roddy is not the deep threat any more, and I'd argue that the Colts game really put Julio on the radar of a lot of teams. If Roddy and Julio are 1a and 1b, then perhaps Julio helped Roddy get open, too.

2) He's prone to injury now. Julio has never had a recurring injury issue, to my knowledge. Muscle injuries, if the healing is rushed, can re-occur easily. I would assume Julio has had plenty of time to rest his hamstring up and, as far as I know, never had an issue in college. Julio's very eager to play and show his stuff, and I think he might've tried to play hurt more than he should have. I'm not worried about it going forward.

3) Our running game makes him better. I won't really say this is wrong, though I don't think our running game is as good as people think it is. I think our running game makes Matty's job easier, but, as I'll point out in the final Bears video (if I ever get around to it), there have been times when it hasn't been respected in short yardage situations and, when it has, we've lost. That's a great way to get people to not play the run.

4) Only a franchise QB is worth that much in a draft trade. I understand the reasoning behind this. Believe me, I do. But there are also such things as franchise WR and franchise RB. Would you trade that much for Fitzgerald? Andre Johnson? Calvin Johnson? What about Matt Forte? MJD? Franchise WR and RB will be successful no matter where they go and can be built around. Fitz and MJD are great examples of this.

We only say these things because these players have already panned out to be successful NFL players. But the risk for drafting a QB is, in my opinion, much greater than drafting someone who you believe will be a franchise wide receiver. If the QB doesn't pan out, the whole team suffers, whereas if the WR suffers, the team can still function, albeit maybe at a lesser rate. The entire draft is a crapshoot. There's no guarantee any of the picks we gave up will be any good, just as there's no true way to know whether anyone will be any good until they actually play.

5) Superstars can be found later in the draft. Why trade everything for one guy? Again, I understand the reasoning here, but 1) it's much, much less likely to happen later in the draft and 2) find me someone not mentioned in this post whose rookie season was that good in 9.5 games.

Part 4 Conclusion: I hope I at least covered most of the reasons against Julio and/or the trade. If not, comment with them, I'll see what I can do. Haters get a technical foul for arguing with the ref (me) and Dimitroff drills the two free throws because he's a boss. Haters also forfeit their half point.

Final Score: Dimitroff 4.5, Haters 0.

Super Conclusion: I know we might not all think Dimitroff makes the absolute best decisions, but it's clear that he knew he'd be taking a very large risk in trading all those picks away for Julio Jones. But you see, Dimitroff wasn't thinking in the short term, he was thinking long term. We have a young QB who can take us to a Super Bowl, and now we have a super stud receiver to go with him for what will likely be the rest of his career.

We also (technically) received more value for Julio's pick than we gave up, something that is usually not seen by teams that move up, as shown in part 1. While we may have given up the rights to draft the heroes of the movie KickAss, it is quite possible that we drafted the actual Superman instead.

This was a calculated decision by Dimitroff, and it's one that has only just begun to pay off.

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