This is a list comprised of mistakes Atlanta Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff has made during his time in the role. I kept it focused on the first round due to the importance of the pick. A bust in this round usually kills an entire draft class. Here are five times Dimitroff should have said, “Hold up and let’s think about this a bit more.”
#5 Vic Beasley at eighth overall
Vic Beasley was the 8th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. To this point, calling Beasley an “underperformer” would be putting it nicely. The former Clemson Tiger was drafted to be a dominant pass rusher and has not delivered. Beasley did turn in a 15.5 sack performance in 2016 but has vastly underwhelmed outside of that, totaling 14 sacks combined in his other three seasons. If he doesn’t prove himself in 2019, he will be searching for a new team in 2020.
Who we could’ve had:
Todd Gurley (10th overall): The UGA product has proven to be worth a high selection. Through four seasons with the Rams, the pro bowl RB has gained 4,547 rushing yards, 46 rushing touchdowns, 1,883 receiving yards, and ten receiving touchdowns. However, Arthritis in his knee may shorten his career by a substantial amount. Still, he’s been a far superior player than Beasley ever has.
#4 Sean Weatherspoon at 19
The man formerly known as SPOOOOOOOOON was a solid pick in the 2010 draft but could never stay on the field long enough to become worth the first round selection. During his rookie contract, the Missouri Tiger was available to play in 11, 16, 13, 7, and 0 games. Sean had the ability and personality to be a stalwart on the Dirty Bird defense. The thing is, you can’t make the club from the tub and Spoon couldn’t get out of the tub.
Who we could’ve had:
Demaryius Thomas (22nd overall): With former Falcon Roddy White entering his age 30 season, there was a reason to think Thomas would’ve made more than a solid heir. Through 9 seasons, the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket has amassed 9,330 receiving yards and 62 touchdowns.
Dez Bryant (24th overall): With a similar mindset behind the Thomas pick, Dez Bryant would have also made a significant contribution to the Falcons. Through his eight seasons as a Dallas Cowboy, Bryant accrued 7,459 receiving yards and 73 touchdowns. And let us not forget…DEZ CAUGHT IT!!! (that is for my wife and father-in-law who are both petty Cowboys fans)
#3 Desmond Trufant at 22 or Robert Alford at 60
Alford was technically a second-round pick in the 2013 draft, but the issue is drafting two corners in the first two rounds. Trufant was a more heralded prospect coming out of Washington than Alford out of Southeastern Louisiana University. That being said, neither of the two can be seen as “good picks.” Too often, Trufant is seen in a blown coverage or getting beat over the top. I am not sure how much of that is scheme-related, but it can’t happen to one man that often and be considered acceptable.
Who we could’ve had instead of Trufant:
DeAndre Hopkins (27th overall): The former Clemson Tiger has started every game except for one in six years with the Houston Texans. Over those six years, Hopkins has 7,437 receiving yards and 47 touchdowns. Having him on the other side of Julio Jones may have been a better decision in hindsight.
Alec Ogletree (30th overall): The outside linebacker from Athens, GA, has primarily moved to inside linebacker, but could also play safety if he wanted to. That is the kind of athlete Alec is. Ogletree has 595 total tackles, 37 tackles for loss, provides a presence at any backer spot and could have been a sideline-to-sideline guy in the Falcon’s defense.
Travis Frederick (31th overall): The 31st overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys, Travis Frederick has been a mainstay on the offensive line, starting in every game for the Cowboys since being drafted. Frederick’s made 4 Pro Bowls and was named to the All-Pro team in 2016.
Who we could’ve had instead of Alford:
Travis Kelce (63rd overall): Travis Kelce has become an absolute monster for the Kansas City Chiefs. Through six seasons, the former Cincinnati Bearcat has amassed 5,236 receiving yards and 32 touchdowns. He had three straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons and has been named to four Pro Bowls. Kelce also has two All-Pro selections (2016 and 2018).
#2 Julio Jones Trade at 6:
I know what you’re thinking; “How the hell is Julio Jones a mistake? He’s going to be one of the top-five receivers all-time when he is done! You’re an idiot!”
While that all may be true, the Falcons gave up five picks to draft Julio. Jones has continuously asked for more money while dealing with chronic foot issues. There is no questioning how outstanding of a receiver he is, but receivers often don’t win championships, and that’s been the case with Julio. Here are the players the Falcons could have had if they had not made the Julio Jones deal.
Who we could’ve had:
2011 Round 1- Cameron Heyward (31st overall): The Pittsburgh Steelers knew that games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage, so they drafted Cameron Heyward. The Ohio State product has totaled 45 career sacks and is a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end. Heyward is a player that offensive coaches game plan around – a gamechanger on the defensive line.
2011 Round 2- Randall Cobb (64th overall): The wide receiver from Kentucky was taken 64th overall by the Green Bay Packers. In no way is Randall Cobb comparable to Julio Jones, but Cobb has put up respectable numbers as a pro, totaling 5,524 career receiving yards and 41 receiving touchdowns. Those stats are dwarfed by Julio’s 10,731 career receiving yards. However, Jones has only scored ten more career touchdowns than Cobb.
Justin Houston (70th overall): The Georgia Bulldogs standout was drafted 70th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs and has been a dominant force at the outside linebacker position. Houston has 78.5 career sacks, 381 total tackles, and 96 tackles for loss over his career. There is zero question that drafting Houston would have made a drastic impact on the Falcons defense, especially if Heyward were playing with him.
2011 Round 4- Julius Thomas (129th overall): Julius Thomas was considered a steal by the Broncos. Thomas has 36 career receiving touchdowns from the tight end position. He only trails Julio by 15, with Julio being targeted 743 more times than Julius. Lack of scoring production from Jones should lead many to wonder if the trade was ever really worth it.
2012 Round 1- David DeCastro (24th overall): Once again, the Steelers had the mindset of building inside out, and hit a home run with DeCastro at 24th overall. The offensive guard has been a mainstay in the starting lineup for the Steelers since 2013. DeCastro is a four-time Pro Bowler with two All-Pro selections (2015 and 2017).
2012 Round 4- Brandon Boykin (123rd overall): While Boykin might not have the stats of a superstar, he has produced at the NFL level and would be considered a good pick in the 4th round. Boykin totaled eight interceptions and 135 total tackles, making plays as a nickel corner and would’ve bolstered the Falcon’s secondary while also providing playmaking ability on special teams.
The Julio trade cost the Falcons:
With Justin Houston as 2nd round pick: With Randall Cobb as 2nd round pick:
12 Pro Bowls 9 Pro Bowls
4 All-Pro Selections 3 All-Pro Selections
2,406 receiving yards 7,930 receiving yards
36 receiving touchdowns 77 receiving touchdowns
832 tackles 452 tackles
125.5 sacks 47 sacks
12 interceptions 8 interceptions
#1 Peria Jerry at 24:
The problem with first-rounders is that they have to be successful or else they are busts. Late-round guys do not have the same stigma attached to them. The defensive tackle out of Ole Miss is a bust. Most Falcons fans will say, “Who?” or “Isn’t he that one guy?” when you ask them about Peria Jerry. He never put it together; totaling 67 total tackles and 5.5 career sacks over five seasons in Atlanta. The worst part about Jerry is out of his control, but it is who the Falcons could have had instead. Dimitroff had the opportunity to select the lead singer of an acapella group that crushed on Pitch Perfect 2.
Who we could’ve had:
Clay Matthews (26th overall): Clay Matthews was taken two picks behind Jerry by the Green Bay Packers. Matthews is a six-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker with one All-Pro selection in 2010. The former Trojan from Southern Cal has accumulated 494 total tackles, 121 tackles for loss, 189 hits on the quarterback, six interceptions, and 83.5 sacks. Matthews will be a Hall-of-Famer when his career is done. I just hope they get the hair right on his bust.