Over the past three seasons, the Falcons have spent four draft picks in the first round.
The first two were spent on quarterback Matt Ryan and offensive tackle Sam Baker. The third was for defensive tackle Peria Jerry. The fourth was on linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. What do you think when you see that list? Do you think of greatness, or busts?
Let's get this out of the way early. None of those guys are busts. Peria Jerry hasn't lived up to expectations yet, but he's had just two season, one of them entirely lost to injury. You may not love the picks, but that is, in my mind, almost inarguable.
Yet as you can see by the comments on this AJC article, that argument is happening.
This comes back to what reader Leon07 would call a fundamental lack of patience among fans, in my opinion. The relatively few players who come in an make an immediate impact are the ones that tend to stick in the public consciousness, and that makes it difficult for fans to swallow slowly-developing first round picks.
It's ridiculous to think that Sean Weatherspoon could be anything close to a bust after a single season where performed decently when he was healthy, but I've already heard some grumbling that he's another wasted pick in the first round. And don't get started on Jerry, who admittedly hasn't lived up to our lofty expectations but deserves a fully healthy season to try to make a return on his lofty draft status.
And it's patently ridiculous to suggest that Matt Ryan and Sam Baker, who have been starting since they entered the NFL, are anywhere close to being failures.
I know it's disappointing that the Falcons haven't won a playoff game over the last three years, but they've been built into an annual powerhouse. I think a little patience is in order, and a little trust in the process. If Jerry and Weatherspoon fall flat on their faces in 2011 and Thomas Dimitroff drafts another guy who gets hurt at the beginning of the season, then we can at least talk about this issue.
Until then, let's be thankful the Falcons are a damn good team.