Few people expected the St. Louis Rams to draft Julio Jones, their white whale, by Thursday afternoon, but the particular way the 2011 NFL Draft engineered Jones’s escape from the Rams’ 14th pick was even more unexpected—the Atlanta Falcon’s incredibly steep trade to get up to the sixth pick validated almost nobody, except the Cleveland Browns’ management. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay had Jones going that early, but most people expected Jones to become a member of the Washington Redskins at the 10th pick.
Instead, the Falcons gave up a hundred different picks to move up from No. 27 to No. 6, in the end trading their first, second, and fourth picks of this year and their first and fourth in 2012. Most teams were high on Julio Jones following his NFL Combine breakout, but I don’t think anyone else was that high on him.
Matt Ryan is a great quarterback to deal with as a rookie, but expectations on Jones will be high, given the price of his acquisition. He’ll be expected to become a major contributor from Week 1, whenever that is.