Tuesday, September 24, 2013
On Belichick and trading up for Julio Jones
By Mike Reiss
In Michael Holley's book "War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team," Holley details the rise of the Patriots under Belichick, while weaving in how former assistants Scott Pioli and Thomas Dimitroff went on to run their own teams and took many (but not all) of the same team-building principles with them.
One part of the book is timely to revisit this week, as the Belichick-built Patriots prepare to face the Dimitroff-built Falcons on Sunday night.
In 2011, Dimitroff made a bold trade in the NFL Draft to select receiver Julio Jones with the No. 6 overall pick. The trade was costly, with the Falcons giving up a 2011 first-rounder (27th overall), 2011 second-rounder (59th), 2011 fourth-rounder (124th), 2012 first-rounder and 2012 fourth-rounder. And according to Holley's book, it was a move that Belichick advised Dimitroff against making because of its high cost.
This was a hot topic when "War Room" was released, with the Atlanta Journal Constitution and others (SI's Peter King's book review) writing on Dimitroff going against the advice of one of his mentors.
Spinning it forward, Belichick was asked the following question on his regular conference call today: Has your opinion changed at all on the currency that Thomas Dimitroff gave up to trade up for Jones in the draft ... now that there have been two-plus years to see how he's developed as a receiver?
"I think Julio has done a great job for them," Belichick answered. "He's an excellent football player, period. As a receiver, he's got good good strength, good speed, good ball skills. He makes some acrobatic catches, goes up and takes the ball away from defenders. He's strong after the catch. Tough guy to tackle. He's also very good in the running game, a good blocker. He's a guy that will go in and get linebackers and safeties in the running game; he's probably about as good as anyone in the league. So it's not just his receiving skills, although they're very good. I think he's a complete football player. I know he's a tough kid, and a hard worker, and is great for their program. I'm sure that they're very happy on their team, because he does a good job in every area."
Belichick obviously likes Jones (team-high 27 catches) as a player, but his response didn't answer the direct question of whether his opinion has changed from the 2011 draft as it relates to what the Falcons gave up to select him.
That's a good topic to debate, especially when considering Jones figures to be the Patriots' No. 1 defensive priority on Sunday night.