In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons made the big splash of the first round by moving up to the sixth spot to draft Julio Jones. In the trade with the Cleveland Browns, the Falcons got a big time receiver in Jones, but failed to address some holes in the team in the process, as they traded five draft picks to move up. Now, with Jones in danger of being out for the rest of this season, not having those extra players might have doomed this season, and perhaps even future seasons.
There is no doubt that Jones is a top-flight receiver, on par with Calvin Johnson in terms of on-field production and overall domination. When combined with Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Tony Gonzales and Harry Douglas, the Falcons have the most potent receiving force in the league. But balance is what wins championships, and the inability to run the football, especially in the red zone, is seriously hurting the Falcons’ chances. That inability was revealed in the playoffs last year.
Not only are the holes in the offense being exposed, especially on the offensive line, but the defensive deficiencies are shining through, more so than in previous seasons. Injuries are partly to blame for the defensive letdowns, but the holes that weren’t addressed in that draft are to blame as well. Several starters have missed time, but even when they were at full strength, the team still had some problems. GM Thomas Dimitroff has made some fine moves, but has also missed on some key draft choices. It still remains to be seen if the drafting of Jones was the best move for the Falcons for this season and in the future seasons.