Talk to grizzled Atlanta Falcons fans around these parts and you'll likely hear that Rich McKay was not the awful general manager many made him out to be. I've agreed with that for a while on general principle, but via Join Bois at SBN, we have some numbers.
Bois broke down the 2004-2008 drafts in a hilarious piece on the mothership earlier this week, which you should read. For our purposes today, what's most interesting is the following chart, which gives Atlanta the third-best drafting record from 2004-2008, a full 24.4% better than the league average. That's four years of Rich McKay and one of Thomas Dimitroff, in case you wondered.
So what makes the Falcons better than the average team over that span? The chart explains where Bois got his measurements from, but the important thing is that the Falcons just got better players on average. The big hits obviously come in the form of guys like Jonathan Babineaux (2nd round, 2005), Roddy White (1st round, 2005), Justin Blalock (2nd round, 2007) and Matt Ryan (1st round, 2008). Yet there are players mixed in there who get credit more for the work they did after leaving the Falcons, like DeAngelo Hall, Matt Schaub and Chris Houston.
Still, it's clear the Falcons had a pretty good run from 2004 to 2008. Draft classes take time to grow and germinate into successful football teams, and it's not hard to see 2007 as the aberration in that span, with the Falcons building on some existing shrewd player acquisition during the 2008 breakout season and beyond. Rich McKay can probably safely blame his coaches from 2004-2007 for his middling reputation as a GM in Atlanta.
What do you think of the Falcons' track record from 2004-2008, and do you think the 2009-2013 classes will look anywhere near as good in a couple of years?