Browns down to one player left from the Julio Jones trade

Getty Images

Those who didn’t like the Browns trading down in the 2011 NFL Draft have reason to like it even less today.

The Browns’ release of wideout Greg Little on Friday leaves Cleveland with just one player left from a five draft-pick package acquired from Atlanta three years ago — defensive tackle Phil Taylor.

The massive trade landed the Falcons the No. 6 overall pick, which Atlanta used on wideout Julio Jones, who has established himself as a game-breaker.

In moving down from No. 6 pick, the Browns received three 2011 selections: the Falcons’ first-round pick (No. 27), the Falcons’ second-round pick (No. 59) and the Falcons’ fourth-round pick (No. 124). They also received the Falcons’ No. 1 pick in 2012 (No. 22) and their No. 4 pick in 2012 (No. 118).

Using the first of their three 2011 picks from the Falcons, the Browns moved up to No. 21 in the 2011 draft to take Taylor, who has been a solid starter for Cleveland throughout this three-season career.

From there, the Browns’ draft work didn’t go quite as well.

With their next pick from the Falcons (No. 59), the Browns took Little. By the numbers, Little’s stint with Cleveland wasn’t a complete loss (155 passes for 1,821 yards, eight TDs). However, he struggled with drops at times, and the Browns didn’t even see fit to keep him for a fourth season at a relatively low cost. What’s more, only 21 of his catches went for 20 yards or more (13.5 percent).

Jones, meanwhile, has become a star in Atlanta, though a foot injury did prematurely end his 2013 season. He’s hauled 174 passes for 2,737 yards and 20 TDs since 2011, with nearly a quarter of his catches going for 20 yards or more (42-of-174).

The Browns’ final Atlanta pick of 2011 (No. 124) was used on fullback Owen Marecic, who played 24 games in two seasons for Cleveland before being waived in August 2013. Marecic, who had a short stint with San Francisco last season, is currently out of the NFL. In all, Marecic caught five passes for 31 yards and rushed four times for eight yards in regular season play with the Browns.

The Browns didn’t fare any better with Atlanta’s picks in 2012. Quarterback Brandon Weeden, whom the Browns took in the Falcons’ spot in the draft order (No. 22), was waived earlier this offseason after just two seasons with Cleveland.

And in the end, the Browns didn’t exercise the Falcons’ fourth-rounder (No. 118). They traded it to Minnesota to move up from No. 4 to No. 3 to select running back Trent Richardson.

Richardson, of course, is also no longer in Cleveland, but the Browns were at least able to get a 2014 No. 1 pick in return for the former Alabama back.

In all, the Browns have less than they would have hoped for after such a draft-pick haul. However, there is one caveat. The pick the Browns acquired from Indianapolis for Richardson (No. 26 in 2014) was dealt to Philadelphia to move up to take quarterback Johnny Manziel No. 22 overall in last week’s draft. Perhaps this is a branch of the trade tree that will bear fruit.

Moreover, it’s perhaps too easy to simply call the Falcons the runaway winner of the Jones trade without conceding that Atlanta did forego some opportunities to build up its depth by dealing away its No. 1 pick and four others to move up for the talented wideout.

On the other hand, the Falcons aggressively targeted a high pick and came away with a blue-chip player.

The Browns took the volume approach, and there is data to suggest that is not a bad approach.

But without the proper execution, it is just action, not accomplishment.

34 responses to “Browns down to one player left from the Julio Jones trade

  1. Rather than comparing the 2 teams and determining a winner, it’s better to judge the impact on each individual team. The Falcons made their move not to just get better on offense, but to get a player who would put them over the hump and win a Super Bowl.

    Regardless of the Browns bombing on their picks, the bottom line is that the Falcons haven’t yet achieved their goal. Until they do, this trade can’t truly be considered a “win” for them.

  2. On one hand, Atlanta did make solid sacrifice to get Julio Jones. On the other hand, that sacrifice is now behind them and they still have hopefully 8-10 years of worth left out of Julio Jones.

    Winner, by a land slide: Atlanta Falcons

  3. Regarding a winner of the trade — I’d agree that it is a longer-term determination, and it is not as easy as comparing the teams. That’s why I mentioned the opportunities given up by the Falcons.

    On the other hand, the Browns gave up the No. 6 pick in a draft that was quite deep in first-round talent, as it turned out.


  4. And the thought of Holmgren being a GM elsewhere just blown out of the water. Talk about living off a HoF QB (Farve) & little else to show as a coach or GM. Made him a fortune.

  5. But… But… But… the charts and algorithms and studies show its always better to trade down! Nobody knew Julio would be a star its just a crapshoot! NOT!

  6. The Browns have begun to turn things around. Getting rid of Little was a good move for them.

    Steelers and Ravens on the decline. Cleveland has a chance in their division.

  7. I LOVE articles like this. I would love to see more trades analyzed.

    The Falcons are merely 27-21 since this trade, and not a dominant team even in their own division. Their post-season success has been elusive, to say the least.

    In my opinion, both teams have blown it so far.

  8. Sammy Watkins > Julio Jones

    Come on Cleveland, when you have an elite receiver (with no off field issues) just sitting there you have to take him.

  9. Julio Jones has a foot full of screws and I saw an NFL draft special last night showing Sammy Watkins having his wig busted like a woman… Browns made the right move passing on Watkins. Seems like a high maintenance diva in the making… (realize they (receivers) all are to a degree…)

  10. True draft analystis would only compare Atlanta’s Julio Jones’ selection to that of whom ATLANTA would have drafted had they stayed with all picks. Not whom another team drafts…

  11. Who would you rather have Josh Gordon or Julio Jones? Gordon would have never been draft, if Jones was on the roster. Of course this would have been a much better post a week ago…

  12. look on the bright side, at least you didn’t overpay for your avg QB, and you won’t be negotiating a contract with your choke-artist QB, like your afcn brethren did. I predict a solid 2nd place finish in the afcn.

    Just don’t start manzier on Wk 1, dude will get wrecked.

  13. The trade was a wash, Phil Taylor is a quality guy who controls the middle of the like like a beast, Julio Jones is a good receiver, but not great.

    When the Browns play the Falcons Taylor will be a force in the middle and Joe Haden will keep Jones under control.

    If the stooges hadn’t wasted those picks the Browns would be way a head.

  14. I have faith in Farmer. Only a moron would think the Browns drafted well over the last 5 years, so no news there. Farmer reminds me a lot of our own former tight end Ozzie Newsome with his demeanor, patience and a principled approach. Time will tell, but I think we need to give him a chance and not assume he will be bad just because those before him were. We don’t even know who the Browns will take with the #1 and #4 picks next year, so way too early to make any judgements on this years trade down.

  15. I guess next time, the Browns will be wiser and just take the star WR at the top of their draft board. Seems like they learned their less…wait, what did you say? They traded Sammy Watkins for a 2015 pick?

  16. I get bashing Holmgren, but not so much Heckert. Holmgren said he sat Heckert down and told him what they’d give up to get Richardson. He also was behind McCoy and Weeden. Granted, Heckert had duds (Marecic, Little, Hardesty), but 2 were injury related (Marecic: multiple concussions; Hardesty: knee–though it didn’t take a mystic to see it coming). Mistakes aside, in 3 years as GM, Heckert did draft some solid players: Haden, Ward, Cameron, Gordon, Taylor, Gipson, Skrine, Winn, Hughes, JMJ (won appreciable playing time with 11-5 Chiefs), Wade (Saints), Pinkston. 3 drafts (plus supplemental)–4 Pro Bowlers… not that bad, and had Holmgren not interfered, could’ve been better. Personally, I thought Heckert was the best Browns GM since reinstatement. Not saying much, I know, and hopefully Farmer will be even better, but given that we have a lot of Heckert players on our roster, seems senseless to bash his misses without crediting his hits, as there isn’t a GM alive who doesn’t miss.

    My only concern with the current regime is that they’re too trade-up happy… using mid to late round picks merely as pawns to make incremental jumps in earlier rounds; I suspect some of it comes from giving non-GMs the latitude to make GM decisions. Coaches tend to fall in love with players (think Ditka & Ricky Williams), so to my mind, giving them undue influence over the draft process can be dangerous. I get moving up for a QB, but much as I love Gilbert & West, A. They may well have still been there if we stood pat, and B. There were other very good CBs (Dennard, Fuller, Verrett, Roby), and other solid RBs (Carey, Martin, Seastrunk, Williams, Johnson) still on the board. When you don’t have those late round picks, you have no cushion if an early pick flops. Hopefully Gilbert and West become perennial Pro Bowlers, but seems most successful teams don’t get there by using late round picks as bargaining chips. They get there by turning 4th-6th rounders into Pro Bowlers.

  17. Classis example of a blockbuster trade that wound up benefiting neither team. Jones has not produced consistently, and the picks the Falcons gave up have seriously compromised their depth… which came home to roost big-time last season. The Browns, on the other hand, squandered their bounty and arguably are no better of a team today than they were before the trade was done.

    Sometimes you best move is the one you don’t make.

  18. Actually the Browns have done a lot more with the picks than they ever would have done with Jones. Taylor is a GREAT pickup who will probably be on the team a long time. Trent Richardson wasn’t a bust till he put on the blue and white uniform and that pick was used to sell more jerseys and tickets than Julio Jones ever could with Johnny “whatever nickname he has this week here”.

    On top of that there’s that one guy they took instead the next year…what was his name? Josh something. I heard he was a pretty good receiver.

    It would be different if the Browns did something like Trade Brett Favre to the Packers just to never see another player anywhere near his talent on their team in 20+ years but they got a just as if not more talented receiver in the very next draft and those picks are STILL paying off for them. No harm no foul. I’m pretty sure Browns fans even with Gordons suspensions aren’t wishing for a redo. Re post this article if Manziel becomes a bust (though at this rate even if he does the Browns will still find someone to give them 2 more first rounders for him, Maybe Kevin Costner is their GM.)

  19. As usual the Browns screwed up yet another trade, but i called that the moment they traded down, just like they screwed up bypassing Sammy Watkins, for a CB that cant tackle.

    This is exactly why they have lost 10 or more games 6 straight years, soon to be 7. Their drafting is horrible, thats why they suck every year. Its pretty simple, you draft horrible players, you wont win games. Theres no curse, no jinx, its called horrible drafting and decision making

  20. For all the sour grapes I’m reading, I know I would like to have Julio Jones opposite Josh Gordon, especially now!

    I see the trade as a wash. Atlanta got Jones and we got Taylor. Shake hands and move on.

  21. LOL at these posts. Anybody that say ATL didnt get the best of this trade is borderline slow. Jones is a superstar and would start for any team in the NFL. It’s like saying the niners lost out in the Jerry Rice trade…#borderlineslow

  22. Taylor is a borderline all-pro DT. jones is borderline walking injury. I actually would still do this trade over, taylor a solid starter jones a solid starter. we have pleny of chances with the other guys just didnt pan out as planned. Really the browns made out just because the guys are not on the team any more doesnt mean they were not starters. Weeden was a starting qb on a bad team. Greg Little Starting WR on a bad team. So realistically Browns won on the trade short term. long term who know Jones might be done after this year. Taylor might make the pro bowl this year. Can’t compare a DT to a WR differnt animals. Taylor is a game changer on the defense i can tell you that.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!