5 players who became Falcons via draft trade

Good deal or bad deal? 5 draft trades that sealed Falcons’ history

Thomas Dimitroff has made nearly 79 draft selections for the Falcons since picking Matt Ryan third overall in 2008.

In 2011, Dimitroff made a 5-for-1 deal with Cleveland to move up 21 spots to land Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. It has been one of the Falcons’, and Dimitroff’s, most successful draft deals.

But not all draft deals have turned the fortunes of Atlanta’s NFL franchise. Here’s a look back at some of Atlanta’s more memorable draft exchanges:

April 20, 2001

The Falcons traded three draft picks to San Diego for the first pick in the 2001 NFL draft. The next day the Falcons used the pick to select Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick — and the rest is history, as they say. The Falcons also sent wide receiver Tim Dwight to the Chargers.

The Chargers used those picks to select running back LaDainian Tomlinson (first round in 2001, fifth overall), cornerback Tay Cody (second round 2001) and wide receiver Reche Caldwell (second round 2002).

Tomlinson rushed for more than 13,000 yards in his career and in 2017 was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jan. 28, 1975

The Falcons made their first trade splash to acquire their first marquee quarterback. The team traded offensive tackle George Kunz, who was quite a good player, and its first-round pick in 1975 (third overall) to the Baltimore Colts for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and a sixth-round pick.

The Falcons used that first pick on California quarterback Steve Bartkowski. They also picked up linebacker Fulton Kuykendall from UCLA in the sixth round.

Quarterback Steve Bartkowski became the face of the franchise and would go on to set every passing record in Falcons history. (Mike Powell/Getty Images)
Photo: Rudy Isaza/Atlanta Falcons blog: Atlanta football news

Bartkowski was the Falcons’ star quarterback on the franchise’s first three playoff teams (1978, 1980 and 1982). The 1980 team won the franchise’s first division title. He held the team’s primary passing records from the time he left the team after the 1985 season until the emergence of Matt Ryan this decade.

Kuykendall was a starting linebacker from 1975-83. His nickname was Captain Crazy.

April 19, 1990

The Falcons held the first pick in the 1990 draft and traded it to the Colts (along with a fourth-round pick) for wide receiver Andre Rison, offensive tackle Chris Hinton, a fifth-round pick in 1990 and a first-round pick in 1991.

The Colts used the first pick of the 1990 draft to select Illinois quarterback Jeff George. The Falcons selected offensive tackle Reggie Redding with the fifth-round pick in 1990 and wide receiver Mike Pritchard with the first-round pick in 1991.

Hinton played four seasons for the Falcons and was selected All-Pro in 1993 and to the Pro Bowl in 1991. He started 60 of the 63 games he played in. Rison played five seasons for the Falcons and caught 423 passes for 5,633 yards and 56 touchdowns. He was chosen for four Pro Bowls and was All-Pro once. Rison and Hinton were key pieces during the Falcons’ run to the playoffs in 1991.

March 24, 1994

Four years after trading the rights to Jeff George, the Falcons traded first-round and third-round picks in 1994, and their first-round pick in 1996 to acquire the Colts’ quarterback.

George lasted three seasons with the Falcons, helping lead the team to a playoff berth in 1995 and taking part in an infamous sideline dispute with coach June Jones in the third game of the 1996 season.

George subsequently was suspended and never played again for the Falcons.

The Colts took defensive lineman Bryant Young with the 1994 first-round pick (seventh overall) but he ended up with the 49ers (after two more trades) on draft day. The Colts used the third-round pick in 1994 to select running back James Bostic and the first-round pick in 1995 (19th overall) to take Marvin Harrison.

Harrison played 13 seasons in the NFL, all with the Colts. He caught 1,102 passes for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. George passed for 8,575 yards and 50 touchdowns in 35 games.

Feb. 11, 1992

The Green Bay Packers, under then-new general manager Ron Wolf, swung a deal for a Falcons backup quarterback, exchanging a first-round pick for Brett Favre.

The Falcons took Favre one pick ahead of the Jets in the second round (New York had no first-round pick) in 1991.

He was buried deep on the depth chart — behind Chris Miller, who was in the midst of a Pro Bowl season in 1991, and Billy Joe Tolliver.

Frank Niemeir / AJC The Atlanta Falcons drafted quarterback Brett Favre 33rd overall in the 1991 draft. After a disappointing seasons in Atlanta, he was traded to the Green Bay Packers where he went on to have a Hall of Famer career and was voted league MVP three seasons in a row (1995-97).
Photo: D. Orlando Ledbetter/Atlanta Falcons blog: Atlanta football news

In Wisconsin, Favre would soon supplant Don Majkowski as the starter.

With Green Bay’s 19th overall pick, the Falcons selected Southern Miss running back Tony Smith. Smith played two-plus years in Atlanta. 

The Falcons would start 16 quarterbacks while Favre toiled in Green Bay, building a Hall of Fame career on the foundation of two Super Bowl appearances (one victory) and three consecutive MVP awards.

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