Falcons go for broke with Julio Jones

Last night, I was at Philips Arena watching the Game 6 clincher between the Hawks and Magic, assuming I’d be home from the game by the time the Atlanta Falcons made their first pick in the NFL Draft. The only way I figured that wouldn’t happen was in the event of a trade up for a better pick.

Well, the Falcons did trade with the Cleveland Browns for their No. 6 overall pick in the first round. In return, the Falcons gave away their first-round pick for this year and next year, their second-round pick for this year and two fourth-round picks.

Instead of those five picks, the Falcons will take just one, and with that one pick, they took wide receiver Quintorris Lopez Jones out of the University of Alabama.

Julio, as you may know him.

The kid is a heck of an athlete, and he is definitely worthy of a first-round pick. But is he worth two firsts, a second and two fourths? I’m not so sure about that, Mr. Dimitroff.

But I can’t doubt the Falcons’ GM, because seemingly everything he has done has made the team better. I don’t see any way Jones makes our offense worse, but I thought we needed to address issues on defense more than we needed another weapon in our offensive arsenal.

Sure, this is going to be incredible to watch — Jones and Roddy White on the field at the same time? Who do you even guard?

But this pick won’t stop the Packers from hanging 50 on us again. Defense would have stopped that nightmare from recurring, but I guess we can try to outscore them Arena Football League-style with all these wide receivers.

I understand trading up for a once-in-a-generation talent, but nothing I saw of his college career made me think Jones will be that guy for the Falcons. He’ll be nice, he may even be really good — but he’s never going to be better than Roddy White, so I don’t know why we mortgaged our future for another receiver.

Was this Dimitroff’s way of saying that the safe, smart pick clearly isn’t working out like it should (we’re still winless in the postseason under his watch, though we did manage the No. 1 seed in the NFC in 2010), and abandoning that plan for the guy that may be a gamble? Was this a result of trying to please the whiny Atlanta fanbase that spent the entire 2010 season complaining about the Falcons not being exciting enough on the field, eeking out a boring 13 wins in the regular season?

No matter the reason, I need to see more out of Jones in the pros; specifically, in big games. For example, he had 23 receiving yards in the 2009 BCS Championship game. Sure, Alabama won that game, but we don’t need another guy who shrinks in the big game.

We need to win playoff games, and I think a safe pick on the defensive side would have helped more. We were doing a good job of building the defense through high draft picks, and we suddenly stopped.

I know Atlanta is a fan of this pick, and Jones is a good player. But I’m not sold just yet.