Earlier today, I came across a reference that the Atlanta Falcons GM, Thomas Dimitroff, had traded up five times in his 12 years in the position, including a trade up to grab Julio Jones in the 2011 draft.
In the spirit of the recent look backs at the Ravens’ and Seahawks’ drafts over the course of the past decade, I thought I would dig into these 5 trades UPs by the Falcons, to see how they panned out.
This piece will follow the same format as the two earlier pieces, with “career AV” values - as a rough estimate of player productiveness - in parentheses for the players selected at various picks throughout this article.
Dimitroff is another GM germinated from the Belichick tree, having spent time with the head coach both with the Browns and the Patriots. Dimitroff got his own General Manager position, with the Falcons, starting in 2008, and has been their GM since. He was hired just before the 2008 draft on January 13th.
In 2008, the Falcons stood pat in the first round and selected Matt Ryan (CAV 179) at #3.
Later in the first round, they traded up with the Redskins, sending picks 34, 48 and 103 to DC for picks 21, 84, and 154.
- 21 (Falcons) - Sam Baker (CAV 35)
- 84 (Falcons) - Harry Douglas (CAV 36)
- 154 (Falcons) - Kroy Biermann (CAV 29)
- 34 (Redskins) - Devin Thomas (CAV 4)
- 48 (Redskins) - Fred Davis (CAV 15)
- 103 (Redskins) - Traded to the Titans for 124 and 157
- 124 (Redskins) - Justin Tryon (CAV 7)
- 157 (Redskins) - Traded to the Rams
This trade up was a success for Dimitroff and the Falcons, not because it netted any superstars, but because it resulted in 3 solid starters AND because their trade partner, the Redskins, absolutely squandered their picks.
In 2009, the Falcons stuck at pick #24 and selected Peria Jerry (CAV 15).
In 2010, the Falcons made their selection at #19, taking Sean Weatherspoon (CAV 24).
In 2011, the Falcons moved up to #6 for Julio Jones, sending the Browns picks 26, 59, and 124, as well as first and fourth round selections in 2012.
- 6 (Falcons) - Julio Jones (CAV 113)
- 26 (Browns) - Cleveland uses this pick and #70 to trade up for #21 with the Chiefs.
- 21 (Browns) - Phil Taylor (CAV 21)
- 59 (Browns) - Greg Little (CAV 14)
- 124 (Browns) - Owen Marecic (CAV 0)
- 2012 #22 (Browns) - Brandon Weeden (CAV 15)
- 2012 #118 (Browns) - Packaged as part of a trade up to #3 for Trent Richardson (CAV 18).
At this point in the analysis, it’s difficult to say whether trading with Falcons in the first round results in some sort of terrible curse on the trade partner, or whether Dimitroff is simply adept at finding easy marks.
The Falcons traded away their 2012 first as part of the deal for Jones.
In 2013, the Falcons traded up again, this time with the Rams. They received pick #22 in exchange for pick 30, 92, and 198.
- 22 (Falcons) - Desmond Trufant (CAV 38)
- 30 (Rams) - Alec Ogletree (CAV 55)
- 92 (Rams) - Stedman Bailey (CAV 7)
- 198 (Rams) - Traded to the Texans
This trade was fairly close to a wash with an advantage to the Rams. Coincidentally, the #22 pick was one of those the Rams received as part of the RG3 trade from the Redskins.
In 2014, the Falcons stuck at pick #6 and selected Jake Matthews (CAV 59).
In 2015, the Falcons remained in their first round slot at #8 and chose Vic Beasley (CAV 34).
In 2016, the Falcons again stayed put, choosing Keanu Neal (CAV 13) at pick #17.
In 2017, the Falcons traded up with the Seahawks to #26, sending over picks 31, 95, and 249.
- 26 (Falcons) - Takkarist McKinley (CAV 12)
- 31 (Seahawks) - Traded to the 49ers for picks 34 and 111. (Reuben Foster; CAV 8)
- 34 (Seahawks) - Traded to the Jags for picks 35 and 187 (Cam Robinson; CAV 16)
- 35 (Seahawks) - Malik McDowell (CAV 0)
- 95 (Seahawks) - Lano Hill (CAV 5)
- 111 (Seahawks) - Tedric Thompson (CAV 8)
- 187 (Seahawks) - Mike Tyson (CAV 1)
- 249 (Seahawks) - Chris Carson (CAV 22)
This was a case where the Falcons clearly came out on the losing end of the deal, and where the best player in the whole package ended up being the last one selected.
In 2018, the Falcons again stayed put, taking Calvin Ridley (CAV 14) at #26.
In 2019, the Falcons selected Chris Lindstrom (CAV 2) with their first pick, #14 in the draft. They then traded up in the first for another pick (#31) and 203, sending picks 45 and 79 to the Rams.
- 31 (Falcons) - Kaleb McGary (CAV 9)
- 203 (Falcons) - Marcus Green (CAV 0)
- 45 (Rams) - Traded to Pats for 56 and 101
- 56 (Rams) - Traded to Chiefs for 61 and 167
- 61 (Rams) - Taylor Rapp (CAV 5)
- 79 (Rams) - David Long (CAV 0)
- 97 (Rams) - Bobby Evans (CAV 4)
- 101 (Rams) - Traded to the Pats with 133 for 97 and 162
- 162 (Rams) - Traded to Vikings
- 167 (Rams) - Traded to Eagles
In this abbreviated look at one of the NFL teams most recognized for Day 1 trade ups (5 in 12 years), the results are interesting to see. They clearly “won” the first two - hitting a grand slam with the selection of Julio Jones, while the Browns squandered an army worth of draft capital. Their next two trade ups were “losses,” though not so lopsided. And, their final trade up, in 2019, is still too early to make a judgement on.
When the Falcons have chosen to stand pat in the first, the results have been decidedly mixed. They struck gold with Matt Ryan in 2008, but struck out with several picks as well, with several others turning into reliable starters for the team.
I look forward to your additional comments and insights below.