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Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff discusses 2011 trade up for WR Julio Jones

New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick did not approve

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The 2020 offseason is quickly approaching, and we already know that longtime Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff will return. One of the biggest moves Dimitroff has made in his tenure in Atlanta, was in 2011 when the Falcons moved up to the 6th pick with the Cleveland Browns to take wide receiver Julio Jones. Thomas Dimitroff recently sat down with the Stick to Football Podcast while on scene at the 2020 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

The Falcons traded away their 27th, 59th, and 124th picks from the 2011 Draft, and their first and fourth round picks from the 2012 Draft to move up and select Julio Jones. Dimitroff was asked what made Julio Jones worth trading up for.

“This is another thing that people probably don’t know, and I don’t know how public I’ve been about it,” Dimitroff said. “I remember watching those early years, so that was in 2011 we did that right – in 2008, 2009, 2010 I remember when we played Philadelphia and we would see, you know who their wide receiver was at the time. He could rip it off the top and we were on our heels all the time. And I thought, “we need a player who can be like that. Like Desean Jackson” – and he doesn’t even know that. They’re not a good comparative body type, but someone who was that explosive. And I remember saying to, at that time Mike Smith, “Let’s really look at someone who can have a team, whether he catches four balls or fourteen balls in a game, has the defense on their heels” – and that was a big push to try and get that type of player in our organization.”

Before joining the Falcons in 2008, Dimitroff was a member of the New England Patriots, where he oversaw their scouting department up until 2007. Dimitroff discussed the advice he received, regarding the Jones’ trade from Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick.

“I remember Bill [Belichick] and I were talking,” Dimitroff said. “I would call him before drafts, and it was public knowledge that he wasn’t a real big fan of that. It was one of those things where his feeling was, “as a young guy in this business, are you sure you want to pair yourself with that for the rest of your career? Because you’re hanging off the edge a little bit” – but long story short, we did it. Organizationally of course, I would never look back and never do anything different. And A.) He’s not a diva guy, B.) He’s a tough dude – he’s a guy who has his own style of leadership that our organization really thrives on.”

Another wide receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft was former Georgia Bulldogs, and current Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver A.J. Green who was selected with the 4th overall selection. Dimitroff shed some light on where Green stacked up to Julio Jones.

“That’s an interesting thing. A.J. Green’s right down the street – you knew there were a lot of people in Georgia who wanted us to go after A.J. Green,” Dimitroff said. “They’re different guys. They were right there, believe me. They were right there; we don’t know how that all would’ve played out if Cincinnati didn’t do that – it was one of those things. We were really honed in on Julio for sure, but I’m just saying who knows, someone else might’ve traded up, there might’ve been a completely different approach to the draft. We wanted Julio, all and all. That’s what we wanted.”

In 2020, Thomas Dimitroff enters his 13th season as the Falcons’ general manager. Under Dimitroff, the Falcons have a 109-83 regular season record with 4 playoff victories and 6 playoff losses, including Super Bowl LI. On December 27, 2019 the Falcons announced that after a rough 2019 season, head coach Dan Quinn and Dimitroff would return for the 2020 season. It’s to be determined if that turns out to be a smart decision, as stars’ quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones are only getting older with each passing year.