Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who worked in the Patriots’ organization from 2002 to 2008, ignored Bill Belichick’s advice in 2011 and traded up 21 spots in the NFL draft to take Julio Jones.
If Dimitroff had just listened to Belichick, then the Patriots coach wouldn’t have to figure out how to stop him in Super Bowl LI.
The Falcons acquired the Browns’ No. 6 pick in the first round of the 2011 draft for the No. 27 pick, a 2011 second-rounder, a 2011 fourth-rounder, a 2012 first-rounder and a 2012 fourth-rounder.
According to Michael Holley’s book War Room via Pro Football Talk, Dimitroff’s former boss advised him against the move, but he went ahead anyway. Jones has earned four Pro Bowl berths and he’s been named First Team All-Pro twice. He has 497 catches in his six-year career and led the NFL in catches (136) and receiving yards (1,871) in 2015.
On Sunday, Jones caught nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ 44-21 win over the visiting Packers in the NFC championship game. It was almost a complete reversal from the last game the Falcons played before Jones was drafted, a 48-21 divisional-round loss to the Packers at Atlanta in 2010.
The only time the Patriots faced Jones came in 2013. Jones caught six passes for 108 yards in a 30-23 Patriots win.
Dimitroff has brought a lot of Belichick’s ideas to Atlanta and it’s helped the Falcons reach their first Super Bowl since 1998. The Patriots better hope that Belichick didn’t teach Dimitroff too well. But if Julio Jones burns them in Super Bowl LI, Belichick can’t be blamed for that.