Comparing Julio Jones to the All-Time Great receivers

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Julio Jones is setting new milestones and breaking records on a yearly basis. He’s set two important ones this year in the last six weeks alone, becoming the fastest receiver to 10,000 yards- and most recently- the first receiver to record five straight seasons of at least 1,400 yards. People can compare all they want, but there’s no doubt who the best receiver in the league is this year, and it’s honestly been that way for quite some time.

The real question is where does he rank among the all-time greats?

There’s an obvious answer when talking about the greatest receiver ever, and his name is Jerry Rice. There will likely never be another receiver like him in terms of longevity. Playing in perhaps the toughest era of the NFL, Rice was able to play 20 seasons until he was 42 years old. And he didn’t just play- he dominated. Rice made his last Pro-Bowl at age 40 with the Oakland Raiders, hauling in 92 receptions for 1,211 yards and 7 touchdowns. Julio Jones is an absolutely freakish athlete, but I don’t even think he would try to attempt to play until his 40s like Rice. The former 49er was the poster boy of toughness and work ethic, that nobody has been able to emulate since. It’s going to be nearly impossible for anybody to sniff his career numbers.

After that, Jones could reasonably assert himself right at number two. My number two would be a local legend, Calvin Johnson. Some people might argue with this because he only played in nine seasons and never won a playoff game, but there’s no debating he might be the craziest specimen to ever step on a football field. At 6’5″ and 240 pounds, Johnson ran a ridiculous 4.35 40-yard dash. There was absolutely no way you could single cover this guy, and he often was triple covered- not that it mattered. Mathew Stafford was addicted to throwing deep bombs to Johnson with two, three or four guys around him, and he often came up with a highlight catch. He put a new meaning to the phrase “You got Mossed”.

Speaking of Moss, Randy would be ahead of Johnson on most people’s lists because he played for much longer- and thus- put up much better career numbers. Moss became a living legend the moment he came into the NFL, catching a league-leading 17 touchdowns as a rookie. He made Pro-Bowls in five of his first six seasons, but his career took a bit of a left turn after that. Until, of course, he headed to New England in 2007 and set a record for the┬ámost touchdown receptions in a season with 23. He would wind up finishing fourth all-time in career receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns.

A current wide receiver that deserves to be in the conversation is Larry Fitzgerald. He is now second in receiving yards all-time and climbing with 16,108. Terrell Owens can also make a case. He currently sits third in both all-time receiving yards and touchdowns. Although, his antics certainly lost him a lot of fans. But no matter who you consider the second greatest receiver of all-time, Julio Jones can surpass them.

If there’s one knock against Jones, it’s his touchdown production. Through almost eight years now, Jones only has 48 touchdowns. That’s a little over six per season, which is oddly low for a receiver as fantastic as him. However, touchdowns have never been the mark of a great receiver, and he hasn’t had a quarterback that’s particularly good at throwing the deep ball or jump ball. That shouldn’t be something that prevents him from being mentioned among the greatest to ever do it.

At just 29 years old, Jones will be flirting with 11,000 career yards by season’s end. If he puts up two more season’s at his current rate, which seems more than reasonable, he will be at 14,000 yards and still only 31 years old. If he puts up a few decent seasons after that- let’s say three of them- then he will own the second spot all-time in receiving. He will also have done it as fast as anyone has.

Considering the type of physical specimen Jones is and the way he takes care of his body, he looks like the type of player who could play well into his 30s, like his good friend Terrell Owens did. If that’s the case who knows how many records he will hold by the time he decides to hang it up.

It’s understandable why Jones does not get as much media coverage as Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr, or the greats like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. He’s no prima donna, he doesn’t need to talk and lets his play speak for himself. Sometimes consistency is boring, even if it’s greatness.

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