I don't have a problem with the draft. I rarely do (last year being one of the exceptions). What I have a problem with is that one year they go left, and then the next year they go right. And so the question becomes what are they gonna do next year?
Because what people don't seem to be grasping, is that the veering right, i.e. the course correction is because of the decisions they made last year. They had to spend 5 of their 6 picks to help out in the trenches, because of last year they spent so little of their picks to help out in the trenches.
You're right though, every move here is NOW met with skepticism. That wasn't always the case. But that's just a part of critical thinking. That's being able to receive information, discern for yourself what is right/wrong or true/false, and then come to your own conclusions. Rather than just having everything spoon-fed to you.
It's why I do all the college/draft evaluations I do. I started doing them in '01, then stopped after '04. And then from '05 to '07, the Falcons wound up with Roddy White, Jimmy Williams, and Jamaal Anderson. And I started back up in '08 because I didn't like being surprised by the fact that some of our picks underachieved while others (e.g. Michael Boley) overachieved.
For anyone to think the team doesn't have a direction or bitches because we don't sign every big name free agent that comes along needs to put the controller down and step away from the Playstation.
If you have a goal, then you should take significant steps towards reachign that goal. If the goal of your team is to be a power-oriented football team that can win football games by controlling the line of scrimmage. You're not going to score 40 points a game by running the football. Instead, you're going to win most games by scoring 20 points. So it's important that you do your utmost to hold that other team to 19 points or less, correct?
So thus, if you're going to be a power-oriented team, then you need to be strong in the trenches, be able to control a game on either side of the line of scrimmage.
So that means making both your OL and DL the best it can possibly be. And currently, you can argue that those are the two weakest parts of your entire team.
So you have available in an offseason arguably the best OG in the league (Carl Nicks), as well as one of the 5-8 best DEs in the league (Mario Williams). So then you have to make a decision, that if you wait until the draft to address those areas, will you get comparable players. The answer is no.
So if the goal is to excel in the trenches, then it probably makes the most sense to get the best possible players there. And in the case of those two, if you had to choose between which one is the better "get" it's probably Williams because he's a much rarer commodity because of the high premium teams put on players of his position and ilk.
The fact that you don't get Williams doesn't mean you've failed. But you're essentially adopting a flawed strategy. Because you're trying to reach your goal with lesser players (our current DL which we know can't win in the trenches) and/or unknown resources (i.e. future drafts/free agency periods).
So what is the best strategy? 1) Pay $100 million for Williams, knowing that he's going to definitely get you a few steps closer to reaching your goal of dominating in the trenches 2) Hope that you can find a Williams-like talent which is rare in itself and even rarer at the later portion of the draft that you believe you'll be picking at for the forseeable future or 3) Hope that you can find lesser talent that can potentially exceed the value that WIlliams adds.
Option 1 is obviously the best short-term strategy, and I think you can make the argument that it is also the best long-term strategy, given that you have been trying to pull off Option 3 for 4 years and have subsequently failed to do so, so why then are you assuming that things will suddenly change for the better in the future?