The Atlanta Falcons have made it clear that they’re all-in on a Super Bowl run in 2013. The team, led by general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith, is clearly in the middle of a championship window and such openings never last long. The fact that ancient (but still effective) tight end Tony Gonzalez recently announced he’s forgoing retirement to come back for one final season tells you all you need to know about how the Atlanta Falcons feel about next year. So do the team’s free agent signings: Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora — two men who aren’t exactly short in the tooth.
So, it should come as little surprise that the latest rumor out of NFL circles is that the Falcons want to trade up in next week’s NFL Draft. The team is reportedly looking for an impact player who can start from day one and put the team over the edge with regards to the sport’s biggest prize.
Hearing the Falcons are trying to trade up from number 30 in the first round, and not, obviously, for a quarterback.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) April 17, 2013
The rumor makes perfect sense, of course. In an all-in season, developmental prospects need not apply. Draft picks in future seasons, some of which will have to be included in whatever package the Falcons are offering the teams at the top of the draft, are devalued, too. It’s win now or bust. It’s win now or a lot of people, general manager and coach probably included, will be out of their jobs.
Of course, these are the exact same things we were saying about the Falcons prior to the NFL Draft two years ago. The Falcons made one of the biggest trade-up moves in recent memory in that draft, moving from No. 27 overall to No. 6 overall (and giving up an additional first-round pick, two second-round picks and two fourth-round picks) to select wide receiver Julio Jones.
At the time, many insiders considered the Falcons to be one impact player away from Super Bowl contention. Jones has certainly delivered — he’s one of the brightest young stars in the league — but the Falcons still haven’t sniffed a championship.
This time around, the Falcons are reportedly targeting Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. In order to get him, the team will once again have to pay a king’s ransom. Moving up for Milliner would mean going from No. 30 overall to somewhere around No. 5 — perhaps a price too steep even for the wheeling and dealing Falcons.
It would also make sense for the team to be on the hunt for a defensive tackle — there are certainly plenty of promising ones available. A tight end would make sense, too, with Gonzalez so close to the end of his career. An impact player at either position could likely be found at a draft slot somewhere in the teens.
This rumor is still very young, so expect it to develop significantly in the coming days and weeks. The Falcons could come out and deny it, feeling that such a move would increase their leverage. Then again, maybe they want teams looking to move down in the draft to know they’re on the hunt for a partner.