If the Atlanta Falcons had listened to Bill Belichick's advice six years ago, Super Bowl 51 could look entirely different.
As revealed in an excerpt of Michael Holley's 2012 book "War Room" on Bill Belichick's draft strategies, Belichick told the Falcons in 2011 that he didn't think trading up to draft Julio Jones was worthwhile.
The Falcons basically mortgaged the future for Jones, famously trading their No. 27 overall selection, 2011 second- and fourth-round picks, and 2012 first- and fourth-round picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up to No. 6 to draft Jones.
According to Holley, Belichick advised Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, a former Patriots scout, that he didn't think it was a good trade.
#SB51 subplot: Dimitroff opened 2 Super Bowl windows by forsaking Belichick's advice, pulling the trigger on 2011 Julio Jones blockbuster pic.twitter.com/76X8DSacGz
The Falcons nonetheless pulled the trigger, even catching Jones by surprise on draft day.
"It took me by surprise," Jones said at the time. "I feel like they have a lot of trust in me. I'm not going to disappoint."
The trade today remains an outlier of sorts in these types of deals. The Falcons got Jones, a 6-foot-4, unguardable receiver who has over 4,800 receiving yards combined over the last three seasons. While giving up so many picks to trade up has historically not been a good idea, the trade looks good today because the Browns failed to capitalize on the opportunity.
Julio Jones through his career
Julio Jones through his career
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts against the Seattle Seahawks at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ATLANTA - AUGUST 30: Wide receiver Julio Jones #8 and defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick #95 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate victory over the Clemson Tigers at the Georgia Dome on August 30, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. Alabama defeated Clemson 34-10. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 08: Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide has a pass broken up by Chris Hawkins #29 of the Louisiana State University Tigers on November 11, 2008 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tide defeated the Tigers 27-21 in overtime. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
2 January 2009: Alabama cornerback Julio Jones (8) celebrates as he runs with his team onto the field prior to kickoff of the 75th annual All State Sugar Bowl between the Utah Utes and the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Derick Hingle/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)
ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 05: Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome on September 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Julio Jones #20 of Alabama runs with the ball at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 27: Wide receiver Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on August 27, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Falcons 34-16. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Football: NFL Draft: Atlanta Falcons wide receiver and No 6 overall pick Julio Jones victorious, holding jersey on stage during selection process at Radio City Music Hall.
New York, NY 4/28/2011
CREDIT: David Bergman (Photo by David Bergman /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X85886 TK1 R1 F838 )
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 15: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons catches a 29-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Georgia Dome on December 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
This is a 2012 photo of Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons NFL football team. This image reflects the Atlanta Falcons active roster as of Tuesday, June 19, 2012 when this image was taken. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Wide receiver Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons looks down at his hand against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 23, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Football: Atlanta Falcons Julio Jones (11) in action, making touchdown catch vs Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.
Landover, MD 10/7/2012
CREDIT: Carlos M. Saavedra (Photo by Carlos M. Saavedra /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X155600 TK1 R2 F235 )
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 16: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons pulls in this touchdown reception against the Corey Webster #23 of the New York Giants at Georgia Dome on December 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 20: Wide receiver Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons looks on after making a catch in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 27: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons and the NFC is introduced before the 2013 Pro Bowl against the AFC team at Aloha Stadium on January 27, 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
28 July 2014: Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) during training camp at Falcons headquarters in Flowery Branch Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 09: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons is defended by Johnthan Banks #27 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter of the game at Raymond James Stadium on November 9, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons heads out of the tunnel during the NFL match between Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium on October 26, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 20: Prince Amukamara #20 of the New York Giants attempts to tackle Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons during a game at MetLife Stadium on September 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 27: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons talks with Line judge Sarah Thomas as the Atlanta Falcons take on the Dallas Cowboys in the second half at AT&T Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons warms up during pregame prior to playing the San Francisco 49ers in an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 11: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons looks on from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins at Georgia Dome on August 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons trys to cath the ball against the Seattle Seahawks at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Football: NFC Playoffs: Atlanta Falcons Julio Jones (11) during interview with Fox Sports Analyst Terry Bradshaw after winning game vs Green Bay Packers at Georgia Dome. Media.
Atlanta, GA 1/22/2017
CREDIT: David E. Klutho (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: SI700 TK1 )
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) heads onto the field during the NFC divisional playoff game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles on January 13, 2018 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Said one talent evaluator, "Atlanta got a franchise player, a dominant player, and Cleveland had five chances to do that with the picks they got and couldn't find a role player worthy of a second contract. Cleveland can't evaluate players, and they can't evaluate the evaluators to even know if they have anyone who can make the picks."
Another personnel man told La Canfora, "Thomas has done plenty of stuff that didn't work out, but he went and got the elite player, and that's all you're trying to do with these picks. Would you trade Julio now for those five players, even knowing that three of them are really good? No. Now, if Thomas had traded all those picks to Seattle, I doubt we'd be saying Julio was the better part of that trade. We'd be talking about the steal Seattle made."
The 2011 NFL Draft was one of the deepest drafts in recent years, with talent abound even in the later rounds. It's possible the Falcons could have found talent later in the draft and used those picks on other positions, as Belichick believed.
Instead, they landed perhaps the best receiver in the NFL, one who figures to be a huge part of both teams' game plans in the Super Bowl this Sunday.