Going into his third year with the Atlanta Falcons, receiver Julio Jones is on the rise to stardom as he is quickly becoming one of the best at his respective position.
In the historic 2011 NFL draft, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff pulled of a bold move that included trading away five draft picks to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for the sixth pick, moving the team up 21 spots and allowed them to nab the former Alabama Crimson Tide product Jones.
I don’t know about you, but Dimitroff must have heard the lyrics from Jeremih’s song “Imma Star” when he shocked the draft room in selecting the wide receiver.
Two years later, instead of seeing flashy cars; we have seen flashy catches and a star being born. In his rookie year, Jones displayed his explosiveness, bursting off the line of scrimmage against opposing defenses and even catching an 80-yard touchdown pass.
In the short-passing game, Jones showcased his craftiness by slipping through cracks in the defense and using his physicality in making catches in traffic, while being a finesse player at the same time.
Jones also proved his toughness by make hard catches over the middle of the field where safeties lurk, just waiting to unload on an innocent receiver. Jones recorded just 54 receptions for 959 yards with an amazing 17.8 yards per catch, as he is also reeled in eight scores in 13 games.
While these numbers alone are impressive, people tend to forget that Jones did all of this without a proper training camp.When comparing these numbers to Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green, who was the other top receiver in the 2011 Draft, their numbers are very similar except in one key area.
While Green had more catches (65) that went for more yardage (1,057) with a 16.3 yards per catch, Green only had seven touchdowns compared to eight for Jones. Green also played in two more games than Jones did, which could have allowed Jones to have more yards and catches.
Although both Green and Jones are the next generation of upcoming stars, Jones shines brighter than his counterpart because of his other skills that impacts the game.
Jones is not only one of the best receivers in the NFL, but with his physicality and fearlessness, he is one of the best blocking receivers in the mold of Hines Wards, who made is living in delivering spine-chilling blocks. When it comes to Jones’ divine athletic ability and raw talent, he is truly the complete receiver.
At 6-foot-3, he has good size and with his jumping ability, he is one of the most dangerous red zone threat to any defense who is trying to guard him. He possesses speed like a cheetah, has the soft hands of Jerry Rice, runs excellent routes and is a great runner after making the catch.
In 2012, Jones put it all together, as he and Roddy White became one of the receiving tandem in the NFL and received his first Pro Bowl nomination. He improved to 79 receptions for 1,198 yards and recorded his first double-digit in touchdown receptions with 10.
As he enters his third year in the league, Jones is ready to become a breakout star on a team that contains one of the best offenses in the NFL today. With Matt Ryan as his quarterback and Tony Gonzalez covering his back, along with his partner in crime White, Jones is primed to rise to stardom in 2013.
The Falcons organization made a bold, daring move when they acquired Jones. Luckily for them, Jones was the real deal.