Originally written on Grits Blitz  |  Last updated 11/19/14

Editor's Note: We'll be bringing you a weekly footnote from Falcons history every week here on The Grits Blitz Blog. Here is your first stroll down Falcons memory lane.

What a way to start this off...one of my favorite mis-steps by the Falcons in the last 15 years. It's right up there with drafting Jamaal Anderson. February 22nd is former and current Falcon Reggie Kelly's birthday! While he inexplicably managed to stay in the NFL for 13 years, he also helped ruin both the 2000 and 2003 Drafts.

To refresh your memory - entering the 1999 NFL Draft, the Falcons had reason to feel pretty good. They were coming off the franchise's first ever NFC Championship, and were bringing back the core of that team - primarily Jamal Anderson and his massive quads.

They already had a pass catching tight end in The Father of the Dirty Bird, O.J. Santiago, and addressed a need for a young pass rusher by selecting Patrick Kerney from Virginia in the 1st Round. Rather than wait until the 3rd Round to find a blocking Tight End, Dan Reeves flipped his 2000 1st Round pick to Baltimore and took Reggie Kelly out of Mississippi State. 

Thanks to an unfortunate injury to Jamal Anderson, and thus the complete evaporation of the Falcons running game and play-action passing game (the keys to their offense in '98), that 1st Round pick ended up being the 5th overall pick in 2000. The Ravens used it to take Jamal Lewis. If the Falcons had kept that pick - they would've had the option to take him, or Brian Urlacher, Corey Simon, Plaxico Burress or even a young athletic Defensive End from South Carolina named John Abraham. Instead, they had to wait until the 2nd Round to draft the late Travis Claridge from USC.

13 of the first 19 picks in the 2000 NFL Draft went on to be Pro Bowlers, not including Plax. When not incarcirated, he's had a pretty nice NFL career.

Okay - that's one draft - how did Reggie ruin 2? Well - since the Falcons couldn't be there at 5 in 2000 to address the gaping need for a big deep threat, like Plaxico Burress, and also due to Dan Reeves general refusal to draft WRs in the first 4 rounds, the Falcons had to go find a big play threat in 2003. They had a new superstar in Michael Vick , and his cannon arm was begging for someone running free down the seam. That was supposed to be Peerless Price. Incidentally, he had been available with the 42nd pick in the '99 Draft, when the Falcons selected Kelly.

Desperate to help Vick, the Falcons gave their 23rd pick in the 2003 Draft to Buffalo in order to acquire Price. The Bills then used that pick to roll the dice on Willis McGahee and his rebuilt knee. Not a bad trade for them. Shortly after he was selected - Nnamdi Asomugha, Dallas Clark, and Charles Tillman came off the board.

Living up to his name - Price was without peer - since I can't think of another feature WR that has been worse in a Falcons uniform.

If the Falcons had been able to address their need for a deep threat in 2000, with the pick they gave up for Kelly, the trade for Price would've been unnecessary. Coach Reeves had to have Reggie Kelly, though, so 2 valuable picks ended up being almost complete wastes.

People want to fondly recall what a good coach Dan Reeves was, but most forget that his drafts, after the 1st Round, were subpar. Moves like the Reggie Kelly and Peerless Price trades are the kind that have held the Falcons franchise back for years and continue to haunt them to this day. I'm hopeful we don't look back on Julio Jones trade with similar regret, and I don't think we will.

So - Happy Birthday to Reggie Kelly. It wasn't your fault, but obviously I'm still bitter.


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