Before anything is said about Julio Jones career in the NFL, let’s look back at the 2011 NFL Draft. Atlanta traded with the Cleveland Browns to jump up to the sixth overall pick in the draft, and ended up taking the superstar out of the University of Alabama, Julio Jones. Atlanta gave up FIVE draft picks for one player! People still to this date differ on opinions about the move, but Jones has been nothing but spectacular for Atlanta. Looking at the players Browns drafted with Falcons’ picks, only one player remains on the team. Maybe it was Cleveland being typical Cleveland, but the edge without a doubt goes to Atlanta, because Julio Jones brought the winning attitude to the Falcons.
Julio Jones is everything an NFL team wants in a player. His size, power, speed, elusiveness, and intelligence are top notch. He has been a top wide receiver in the league ever since he entered in 2011. During his four-year career in the NFL, Jones has caught 278 balls for 4330 yards, notching 26 touchdowns. This is including 2013, when Jones only played 5 games before fracturing his foot that kept him out for the remainder of the 2013 season. Other than 2013, he has proven tough and durable when the Falcons have needed him. Besides the 2013 season, Jones has only missed four games in his three other years in the NFL. He has a proven toughness to his demeanor that most other top receivers do not have.
Last year, Julio Jones played some incredible football. There are two games in particular that I want to go in depth on. Week 13 against the Arizona Cardinals, Jones took on a top cornerback in Patrick Peterson. These two have had incredible battles in college, Jones at Alabama and Peterson at LSU. After playing the Cardinals, it was not much of a battle. Jones had 10 catches for 189 yards, tallying a touchdown in the game. This was against one of the best corners in the league, and Jones has made it clear that no one will stop him. The next game was a nationally televised game on Monday night against the Green Bay Packers. After a terrible first half for the Falcons, they came out firing and trying to come back. Even though the Falcons ended up losing, everyone who watched that game was in shock on how Julio Jones almost brought his team back. It;s hard to go into Lambeau Field and beat the Packers, but Atlanta almost did much in part to their best receiver. In this game, Jones had 11 catches for a jaw-dropping 259 yards, with one touchdown. Below are his highlights against the Packers in 2014.
One argument on why some are opposed re-signing Jones is because many believe having a star wide receiver is overrated. Top receivers such as Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, and AJ Green have never been to a Super Bowl, yet they are feared receivers in the league. The 2014-2015 Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots, best receiver was actually their tight end. The 2014 Seattle Seahawks, NFC Champions, best receiver in the Super Bowl was Chris Matthews. Although the argument has a truth to it, Julio Jones is a deadly weapon for the Falcons. He makes this team better than what they are.
After free agency and the 2015 NFL Draft, the top priority for the Atlanta Falcons organization is now the Julio Jones extension. Head coach Dan Quinn has already publicly stated that he wants Jones to be signed long-term. General Manager, Thomas Dimitroff, has been very short to the media on the subject. Now the two sides either have to make an agreement before the season or it will be after the 2015 season. In my honest opinion, I am 99% positive the Falcons re-sign Jones, I just do not know when. Jones has been nothing but special as an Atlanta Falcon, and he is only 26 years old. Hopefully he will be wearing the black and red for many years to come.