Depending on how you judge draft success in the NFL, arguments can be made that the Patriots have been masters of the draft or have struck out quite a bit since Bill Belichick took over as head coach. As far as dealing draft picks are concerned, New England has done well by grabbing guys like Randy Moss and Wes Welker at amazingly low prices. In terms of actual picks, the Pats have had too many Brandon Meriweathers and Laurence Maroneys in the early rounds. Perhaps that has something to do with why Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff, a former Patriots employee, ignored Belichick’s advice on draft day back in April.
As the Atlanta Journal Constitution shared on Tuesday, Peter King recently reviewed Michael Holley’s book, “War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team.” One of the more interesting stories Holley talks about deals with Julio Jones. According to the book, Dimitroff called Belichick the day of the draft and asked if he thought it would be a good idea to trade up 21 spots to get the Alabama receiver. Belichick advised against making the move.
Belichick recommended staying put at No. 27 and drafting Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Baldwin, but Dimitroff went ahead and pulled the trigger on the deal anyway. Baldwin ended up being taken by the Chiefs at No. 26 and is just starting to emerge after being plagued by injuries this season. Jones, who is ready to return from a hamstring injury, has had a very solid season with Atlanta.
It’s way too early to tell who made the right call, but at the moment Jones looks like an explosive receiver and an excellent complement to Roddy White. The Patriots have always made a point to trade down and have rarely traded up during the Belichick era, so it’s no surprise he disapproved of trading up that many spots. New England hasn’t really mastered the art of selecting players — especially in the early rounds — so Dimitroff ultimately made the right call in ignoring Belichick despite his experience.
H/T to Black Sports Online for the story.