As much as we'd like to think so, Jadeveon Clowney would not fix all of Atlanta's football problems.
He does not play offensive line. He does not play safety or tight end (though either of those ideas are frightening). And as much as Thomas Dimitroff has tried to sell the idea that a quick turnaround is within reach for the 2014 Falcons, I can't help but exercise a little bit of mental caution.
After all, the Falcons brass believed they were a few players away from a Superbowl heading into the star-crossed 2013 season. Steven Jackson, Osi Umenyiora and a trade up in the first round to grab Desmond Trufant seemed like the missing pieces. One of those three moves paid off. The team may have felt the same way in 2011, when Ray Edwards was the big free agent acquisition. Being aggressive during the offseason isn't always a bad thing. But doing so year after year? That can start to catch up with you.
It certainly did for the Falcons, which is why depth should be a primary focus moving forward.
Trading up for Clowney, which I'd imagine is something Dimitroff has considered, would not be the cure-all. A trade involves a sacrifice of something for the acquisition of something else. What Atlanta sacrifices by doing that is an extra pick or two, which equates to lost depth, which was a huge problem for the team this season and especially on the offensive line. Lamar Holmes starting at right tackle? No thanks. This team needs a lot of help, and not just at defensive end.
Take a look at last year's draft. The first seven picks are linemen. Eric Fisher (-17.8 PFF rating) struggles for the Chiefs. Luke Joeckel gets hurt early in the season, as does Jonathan Cooper, and neither have an impact. The Dolphins traded up for Dion Jordan, who had an altogether quiet first season.
I'm aware of the hype around Clowney. I'm sure he'll make a fine NFL player.
What I'm saying is that it might not be the end of the world if the Falcons don't trade up to grab him or land him at all. Sheldon Richardson and Star Lotulelei were drafted at 13 and 14, respectively. Every player has his risks, injuries or otherwise. But what this team really needs to do - what the front office and scouting departments need to do - is make better moves at the quieter end of things.
Re-sign the right guys. Don't re-sign Sam Baker or Thomas DeCoud because they've simply been serviceable, only to look back and wonder. Do the homework on a player's health and conditioning. If changes need to be made in the scouting department, so be it. If a player needs to walk, then it needs to happen (I'm looking at you, Peria Jerry).
Now, I understand why Dimitroff wants to see a "quick turnaround" type of offseason. Atlanta fans, or at least many of them, can be fickle. They lose interest in teams that lose; they are not Cleveland fans. He needs to keep the fan base invested and believing that Mike Smith can get the job done, and that only minor coaching changes were needed. But this team needs a real rebuilding year in the player department. You can't just tape a couple of aging veterans over the wounds and push this team into battle.
For what it's worth, I think keeping Nolan and Koetter were the right moves. I also agreed with firing the line coaches. Some of you don't, and that's okay. Time will tell, but Ray Hamilton and Paul Dunn had attained some very mixed success during their tenures in Atlanta. And from the sounds of things, the Falcons are on the right track to finding some good replacements.
All that's left after that is, you know, finding the right players. And let's be honest: this team has only been so-so at that. It's time for vintage, 2008 Dimitroff to resurface.