Look, I love having Julio on the team. Besides Ryan and Babineaux, he's my favorite player on the team. I'd rather have him than not have him.
But that's my heart making that decision, not really my brain. My brain tells me that if the team had kept those picks and drafted well with them, then they would/should be in a better position than they are today. You're right about Turner falling off since then. Had we had those picks, maybe we could have drafted Mark Ingram or Doug Martin with one of those 1st round picks we gave away. Ingram would have been the perfect replacement for Turner, because similarly he's a "high volume" RB, but unlike Turner, is a very good receiver as well. Would have been a great fit in Mularkey's offense.
I don't want to get too involved in the Jones trade argument/debate again, because we've discussed it ad nauseum. We've all made our views on it very clear. He's an excellent player, but as you noted about Torrey Smith, probably not all that different. Smith is dynamic, and arguably one of the 10 most explosive WRs in the NFL as far as acceleration goes. Julio is also in that conversation as well. For the record, I was high on Smith (graded him as a late 1st rounder), but I thought it would take him some time to develop similar to Roddy. But he's really hit the ground running.
The Lions gave Megatron a $150 million contract ($60M guaranteed) at the outset of free agency this past year. There is no better WR in the league than him, and he may very well go down as the best WR to ever play the game. The talk about him being a once in a generation WR seems to prove true. But that is a ridiculous contract to give a WR. Like the Cards, who gave Fitz $125 million ($50M gtd.), they would probably be better off trading either guy for a bunch of picks (say 2 1sts, a 2nd, and 2 4ths
), and using those picks to bolster other areas of the roster.
When you get a good QB, you hang onto that guy with all you might. Despite the fact that players like Stafford, Cutler, Romo, etc. have their issues, the Lions, Bears, Cowboys would be stupid to let them go. They may not be the best QBs in the league, but they are better than most, and as you look around the NFL landscape, a third (if not over half) the teams in the NFL would murder their grandmothers with a wooden spoon to get their hands on a guy like that. That's why any talk of the Falcons letting Ryan go (even if he blows in the playoffs) is retarded.
But WRs are a dime a dozen. Megatron maybe once in a generation, but Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Marques Colston, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Santonio HOlmes, DeSean Jackson, Wes Welker, Dez Bryant, etc. are part of that same generation.
Robert Woods, Keenan Allen, Marqise Lee, Sammy Watkins are all coming out this year or next year. I have this rule where unless it's a rare specimen (like Adrian Peterson rare), you don't pay big money to a RB once he turns 27, because that player is on the downside of his career. I think the same should ring true for WRs as well. Not in the way that you don't pay them after 27 because WRs can play well up until they are 32-35 years old. But in the idea that they are expendable.
Had it been me, guys like Johnson and Fitzgerald, instead of giving them those huge contracts, I would have just let their deals expire, and "Walter Jones" them, tagging them until I felt like I found a suitable replacement.