We all remember the 2011 NFL Draft well, as the Falcons made waves in the first round with a blockbuster trade with Cleveland that allowed Atlanta to move up in the first round to select Julio Jones with Cleveland's sixth-overall pick. Some fans think Atlanta gave up too much in order to pick Jones. What might the team have done differently?
We all know what happened in round one. Atlanta gave Cleveland their 2011 first round (27th overall), second round and fourth round picks, as well as their first and third round picks in 2012, to move up in the draft to select the talented receiver out of Alabama. The Falcons had reportedly tried, and failed, to trade with Cincinnati at #4 to select A.J. Green.
So what could Atlanta have done differently here? Well, Gabe Carimi was selected 29th overall by the Chicago Bears, and he's a Falcon now, so they could have just cut to the chase and drafted him at the time. Seriously, I love Julio Jones and I don't care what Atlanta gave up to get him. I wouldn't change a thing.
There was no second round pick due to the aforementioned trade to get Jones. Had the Falcons not made that trade, and had they moved forward with a position other than receiver in the first, they might have looked at someone like Randall Cobb in the second round. Cobb was selected by Green Bay with the last pick in the second round.
Atlanta drafted Akeem Dent, an inside linebacker out of the University of Georgia, with their third round pick. Dent was the starter after Curtis Lofton departed for some other gross team in free agency, and hasn't entirely lived up to expectations. There's one player who was drafted early in the fourth round, who might have been an interesting alternative to Dent. Tight end Jordan Cameron, who went to the Browns in the fourth, has emerged as a very promising young player. Had Cameron had the opportunity to come to Atlanta as an understudy to the greatest tight end of all time, Tony Gonzalez, that might have been pretty amazing.
The Falcons also didn't have a fourth round pick due to the aforementioned trade. They selected running back Jacquizz Rodgers in the fifth round. There's one player that jumps out as a good alternative, and that's outspoken Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman is a polarizing figure, but I'll be the first to admit that I would love him if he played for my team.
I had a nice conversation with Matt Bosher last fall at a fundraising event for Sean Weatherspoon's charity. I blurted out that when we drafted Bosher I had serious questions about the decision at the time. In addition to being a badass punter, Matt Bosher is a nice, easygoing young man, and he wasn't offended at all. I went on to assure him that I have completely changed my mind and I love the decision to draft him.
Atlanta had two seventh round picks and spent them on offensive guard Andrew Jackson and defensive end Cliff Matthews. Jackson's tenure with the team was short-lived, and Matthews hasn't seen much defensive playing time. The 49ers selected defensive end Bruce Miller immediately after the Falcons took Jackson, and he would have definitely ben a better option than Jackson. Cornerback Brandon Browner and safety M.D. Jennings both went undrafted, and either might have been reasonable options for Atlanta in the seventh round.
What do you think about the Falcons' 2011 Draft? What might they have done differently?