The good people at The Falcoholic provide one of the best Falcon blogs out there. Everyday you can read something interesting in order to get your daily Falcons fix. So this is by no means meant to slight that site or the people that write for them.
But recently, one of their writers, one Caleb Rutherford wrote an interesting piece about Julio Jones trade, which has been a topic of division among the Falcon fan base since the day it was done. Some view that the Falcons gave up too much. Others view that the trade was well worth it. And probably even more, no longer care and just have learned to live with it. I fall into the former group.
One of the problems with disliking the trade for Julio Jones is that you are accused of disliking the player that is Julio Jones. And for me, that coudln’t be further from the truth. I like Julio Jones the player. I like him a lot. But at the same time, I’m not going to make him out to be bigger or better than he actually is. I think Julio Jones is going to become a very good NFL player and one of the better receivers in the NFL over the next several years. But even if that occurs, I still do not think the trade was worth what the Falcons gave up.
One of the problems I have with Mr. Rutherford’s article is that some of the arguments he made supporting the trade I think are misleading if not outright false.
Firstly, he looked at the “Draft Factor” a stat he invented to calculate the value of a draft pick based on the popular (although widely seen as currently outdated) trade value chart.
The flaw he made in his calculations was assuming that a future round pick is worth half the value of the current pick. In his calculations, he estimated the Falcons 2012 1st round pick to be worth 340 points (half of the value of pick No. 27 overall). That’s the equivalent value of the No. 56th overall pick. That really doesn’t make any sense that anyone would count next year’s No. 1 pick to be the equivalent value of a late 2nd round pick.
Instead, the values on future picks are essentially what the middle pick of each round is worth. That would make a future No. 1 worth the equivalent value of the 16th overall pick, or 1,000 points. And for the second round, that would be the 48th overall pick, or 420 points, and so on and so forth. So instead of the Falcons two 2012 draft picks being worth 364 points as Mr. Rutherford calculated, they should be worth 1,060 points (1000 + 60 for the 4th round pick). That would mean that instead of the “Draft Factor” of .871 as he calculates, the Falcons would be 1.31. That means the Falcons gave up 30% more than the value of the pick via trade.
The other misleading portion of Mr. Rutherford’s argument is the portion of the article where he compares Julio Jones rookie stats to other wide receivers. What is msileading about this, are the receivers who he compares them to. Because all of those receivers upon first glance are either immediately recognized as great receivers or very good receivers, it makes it seem that the fact that Julio Jones is comparable if not better than most of them, means that he is on the verge of being a comparable or better player.
What makes this misleading is that a number of other players have had great rookie seasons, and went on to have good but unspectacular NFL careers. Now there since the NFL merger, there are 16 receivers that have had at least 960 receiving yards during their rookie seasons. Julio Jones had 959. As you look at this list, you’ll see a number of really good NFL players. You’ll see some that were pretty good. You’ll see more that were just average.
The point is that you’re not really going to be able to look at the list and immediately draw a conclusion purely based off the association of the names. Why were Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson added to Mr. Rutherford’s list when they had weaker rookie years than Julio Jones? Of course to compare Jones to players that have gone on to have success. But he could have easily compared them to Keyshawn Johnson, Louis Murphy, Percy Harvin, or Keary Colbert who had identical numbers as those respective great receivers.
I can’t say that Mr. Rutheford deliberately left out the names of players like Kevin Johnson, Joey Galloway, Bill Brooks, and Michael Clayton from his list. But his argument would have definitely carried a bit less cachet had he not done so.
The other flaw is that Mr. Rutherford’s memory is indeed fuzzy about the number of games that Julio Jones played in.
First off, Julio Jones against the Packers injured his hamstring on the second play of the fourth quarter. He was pulled midway through the first Saints game. And he did in fact play in the Minnesota Vikings game. Assuming that he didn’t because he failed to produce is pretty flawed thinking. In fact, Jones was open for two potential touchdowns, but Matt Ryan didn’t throw him the ball in that game. Jones played almost in exactly 49 quarters, 3 from the Packers game, 2 from the first Saints, and 11 full games. That is equivalent to 12.25 games. Obviously, if you extrapolate his production from 12.25 to 16 games, he would produced numbers like this:
Another interesting thing is that if you point out that Harry Douglas had 18 catches and 260 yards in the equivalent of 3.75 games in which he started without Julio in the lineup, and extrapolated that to 16 games, his production would be:
Obviously, any 12-year old knows that anything times zero is equal to zero. But since Douglas was targeted 30 times in those 3.75 quarters (that extrapolates to 128 targets for a full 16 games), it’s very likely that he would have caught a few more touchdowns given 98 additional passes thrown to him.
Is there a point to such a comparison? No, not really. I’m not trying to argue that Jones is somehow only slightly better than Harry Douglas. Jones is head and shoulders better football player than Douglas, and anyone that argues otherwise is crazy. I guess the point is that perhaps it’s not completely Jones that is the cause of said production, just the offense he might find himself in. That is also evidenced by the fact that Matt Ryan’s completion percentage and yards per attempt hardly changed when Jones was out of the lineup. Ryan did throw more touchdowns and less interceptions, so obviously Jones presence had some impact. But it’s unlikely that had Jones missed even more time, that the offense would have seen as huge a dip in production as some would like to portray.
There are plenty of reasons to support why the Jones trade was a good one. I just don’t necessarily think Mr. Rutherford did a good job of presenting that side of the argument.
I believe it’s possible for the Jones trade to be worthwhile, but I think it would take a major shift in the Falcons offensive philosophy. Perhaps in the coming days, I will present some of those thoughts and theories.