by Ryan Isley
As I have said many times, the slogan for the city of Cleveland – at least when it comes to the sports teams – should be “Cleveland: City of Revisionist History.” This past weekend was no exception.
On Sunday as the Atlanta Falcons were playing the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was having one hell of a day. In the first quarter alone, he had five catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. Then he opened the second quarter with a highlight grab for his second touchdown of the game, putting the Falcons up 17-0.
As this was all happening, Twitter was blowing up from Browns fans who were harping on the fact that the Browns traded the No.6 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft to the Falcons, allowing the Falcons to draft Jones. These same people were killing the Browns for making the trade because of how good Jones is – he has become one of the best receivers in the league in just two seasons.
Of course, I can’t blame this all on Browns fans. Some of them are just repeating what they hear or read from some of the Cleveland media. Instead of actually forming their own opinion, some fans constantly rely on the media to feed them their opinions and then take that as the gospel. The media knows this and continues to use their power in what some would call an irresponsible manner.
Do I like Julio Jones? Absolutely. Do I realize how great he is and also how great he might become? Of course I do.
But I also try to deal in facts as much as I possibly can. And sometimes people get the facts and their interpretation of the facts a little confused. That is why I want you to take a deeper look with me into that draft day trade of 2011 between the Browns and the Falcons.
The fans and media did get one thing right: The Browns did trade that pick and the Falcons did draft Julio Jones. Other than that, they like to ignore the facts that don’t fit their argument.
Here is how the trade that allowed the Falcons to draft Julio Jones breaks down:
- Browns first-round pick (No.6) in 2011
- Falcons first-round pick (No.21) in 2011
- Falcons second-round pick (No.59) in 2011
- Falcons fourth-round pick (No.124) in 2011
- Falcons first-round pick (No.22) in 2012
- Falcons fourth-round pick (No.118) in 2011
As we all know, the Falcons used the No.6 overall pick to select Jones.
The Browns then traded the 2011 first round pick from the Falcons in a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs to move up to No.21 and draft Phil Taylor. In the deal, the Browns also gave up their third round pick (No.70 overall). With the No.59 overall pick, the Browns selected Greg Little and then they took Owen Marecic with pick No.124.
Moving ahead to the 2012 NFL Draft, the Browns used that first-round pick (No.22) they received from Atlanta to draft Brandon Weeden, who started the first 15 games of 2012 at quarterback before missing the season finale with an injury.
Before selecting Weeden, the Browns again pulled off a trade in the first round. This time, however, they moved up in the draft to take Trent Richardson. To ensure that Richardson would be available, the Browns found a trade partner in the Minnesota Vikings, who had the No.3 pick while the Browns were sitting at No.4.
In order to keep other teams from getting that No.3 pick, the Browns and Vikings agreed to the following deal:
- Vikings first-round pick (No.3) in 2012
- Browns first-round pick (No.4) in 2012
- Browns fourth-round pick (No.118) in 2012
- Browns fifth-round pick (No.139) in 2012
- Browns seventh-round pick (No.211) in 2012
Do you notice anything? Look closely. Ok – I will give you a hint: look at the fourth-round pick the Browns included in that trade. That’s right…it is the same pick the Browns received the previous year in the Julio Jones trade.
So the result of the trade that Browns made with the Falcons is that the Browns took Phil Taylor (a starter on defense), Greg Little (the leading pass catcher on the Browns in 2011 and 2012), Brandon Weeden (their starting quarterback) and used one of the picks in the trade that brought them Trent Richardson (their starting running back).
And don’t forget – the Browns used their 2013 second-round pick in the 2012 Supplemental Draft to select Josh Gordon. While the pick used to take Gordon was not from the Jones trade, the Browns probably don’t use that pick if they select Jones in 2011. All Gordon did was lead the Browns in receiving yards, touchdown catches and receptions of 20+ yards as a rookie, becoming their most explosive playmaker at the wide receiver position. All of this came after Gordon hadn’t played a down of football since 2010.
If you want to rip the Browns for trading the pick, you have to give them some credit for what they brought back in return. That isn’t a bad haul for a team that needed pieces, not a piece. And that was one of the differences between the Falcons and the Browns going into that 2011 draft – the Falcons were looking for a specific piece while the Browns were still trying to build a core.
Another issue is that Browns fans seem to think that Julio Jones would have had the same impact in Cleveland that he has had in Atlanta. While that is positive thinking, it is also quite delusional.
Remember – the Browns selected Weeden with one of the picks they received in that trade. Without drafting Weeden, the Browns would have still been starting Colt McCoy at quarterback. The number one complaint about McCoy? He can’t throw the deep ball with accuracy. How exactly is Jones supposed to have an impact if the quarterback can’t get him the ball deep – one of the best parts of Jones’ game? This is something the Falcons do with regularity and they can do this because Matt Ryan throws a beautiful deep ball. In fact, Ryan had 30 more completions in 2011 of 20+ yards than McCoy (57 to 27).
If McCoy can’t throw the ball deep and has a weak arm, the Browns would either have needed to still bring in a quarterback that could utilize the wide receiver and get the best out of him – like Ryan has done in Atlanta – or risk wasting Jones as they continued to allow McCoy to develop. And the Browns would have needed to do this without the advantage of having an extra first-round pick in 2012.
But then again, the fans and media would probably just tell me the Browns could have had Julio Jones and Robert Griffin III. As I said – “Cleveland: City of Revisionist History.”
Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org