The Falcons are in a rather unfortunate position.
The good? They won the NFC South again this past season, shaking their greasy playoff monkey while then moving on to finish a meager few points away from a Super Bowl appearance. They also have Tony Gonzalez — one of most productive tight ends in league history, and also maybe one of the most productive vegans in league history — coming back for one more season.
The bad? Well, that bit about Gonzo likely and almost definitely being done after 2013, and needing to replace his historical production. Oh, there’s also the departures of Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson, two key cornerbacks for a team in a division where stopping Drew Brees and Cam Newton is something that has to happen four times a year.
The problem? The NFL does this funny thing where losers are given a chance to improve themselves in a timely manner with a high draft pick. Conversely, winners have far lower draft picks, and with the Falcons at 30th overall, the truly elite prospects at either cornerback or tight end could be long gone by that point.
Brace for it. I can hear the trade rumors rumbling in the distance.
Sound the alarm, Peter King.
Hearing the Falcons are trying to trade up from number 30 in the first round, and not, obviously, for a quarterback.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) April 17, 2013
We discussed this possibility yesterday, and Dee Milliner was the focus. However, while a trade way, way up isn’t something that gives Thomas Dimifroff involuntary shakes, a jump for Milliner may be just a little out of even his reach. Two years ago he sent five picks (including two first rounders) to Cleveland for the sixth overall pick, which Dimitroff then used to select Julio Jones. A kaboom sound followed the announcement of that trade, as it showed the lofty price required to jump 20 picks.
But to fill his team’s void at cornerback by moving up to select the best player at the position, Dimitroff will have to make an even greater leap, and maybe deal with the Browns again. Let’s assume Milliner doesn’t get past the Browns at No. 6, because that’s one of the safest assumptions in a draft where assuming anything seems downright foolish. That means Atlanta would have to give up enough to jump 24 spots, and that extra distance may be just a littttttttle too far.
Or maybe it won’t be, because this is Thomas Dimitroff, the man who approaches draft day trading like he’s that cowboy-hatted individual in Vegas who’s rolling hot dice (yeah, you know the guy). Or maybe it will be, because while Milliner will be great and possibly spectacular, he’s not nearly on Julio Jones’ level as a prospect.
Remember that bit Chip Kelly said about the lack of a “can’t miss” prospect in this year’s draft? That very much applies here. The more likely trade target is for either Desmond Trufant or Xavier Rhodes. Or if addressing a need that’s a little more long term is Dimiftroff’s focus, Tyler Eifert — viewed by many as the draft’s best tight end — could draw his eye too. All of those names would still require sizable jumps, but likely more in the vicinity of 15th overall.