The Atlanta Falcons‘ 2013 season was nothing they expected it to be. After making it to the NFC Championship game last year, the Falcons finished 4-12 and won only one game in their division.
Both of Matt Ryan‘s wide receivers were hurt for most of the year. Roddy White dealt with an ankle sprain early in the season and missed three games. Later in the year, he was bothered by a knee injury, but was able to play through it.
The bigger of the two injuries was to Julio Jones, who only played in five games before fracturing his foot. Jones had a Pro Bowl-worthy season in 2012, catching 79 passes for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jones’ absence was felt greatly among the Falcons team. Their offense was not as explosive and the other pass catchers were faced with more double coverages.
Jones missed three games in his rookie year, but played in all 16 last season. With a season-ending injury like this, Jones will need to do a lot of rehab and make major progress to make himself worth drafting as a top-10 wide receiver.
As of right now, there are eight wide receivers guaranteed to be ahead of him – Josh Gordon, Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Dez Bryant and Antonio Brown. Can Jones be placed in one of those two last spots? A case could be made for Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Jordy Nelson to take over No. 9 and 10.
Jones had an ADP of 23.9, middle of the third round as the sixth receiver taken overall in standard 10-team drafts. He’s too much of an injury risk to draft as a No. 1 wide receiver next season. He, like Arian Foster, is a former (and can once again be) superstar that can provide roster depth on his road to recovery.
Jones should be drafted in the fifth or sixth round as a low-end WR2. He’s still very young with a lot of upside. If you draft Jones, do it with caution.