Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones Could Challenge Jerry Rice's Receiving Record
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Falcons made a risky, yet calculated move to acquire Julio Jones in the 2011 draft, and it has already led to a more explosive and potent offense during the 2011 season. Jones could challenge for the NFL single-season record that Jerry Rice set in 1995 if he continues on his development at the same rapid pace he is on.
Jones is one of the best prospects at wide receiver in NFL history and fits in as one of the prototype models. According to NFL Draft Scout, he is 6'3", 220 pounds, runs a 4.34 time in the 40-yard dash and jumps 38.5" high in the vertical jump.
Jones also has the physicality of Hines Ward and is an excellent blocker. Not to mention, he took two 10-15 yard slants last year and turned them into 80-yard passes with his speed and yard after catch ability and explosive burst.
The biggest question when you have a talent like Jones is the development of him as a true NFL talent and potential best player at his position. There are many key elements to a top wide receiver in the NFL and his development.
Jones came into an offense with an established No. 1 wide receiver who could mentor him in Roddy White. The same offense also featured an established starting quarterback in Matt Ryan and Hall of Fame tight end in Tony Gonzalez.
Jones also came in during the 2011 season with the expectation that he only has to be the third-best option on a team with two already great options. But he exceeded expectations with a season that he proved to be the No. 2 option and gave the Falcons 54 receptions for 959 yards and eight touchdowns.
He did all of this in his rookie year while playing in an offense without having an offseason to learn or develop in it. He was also fighting injuries throughout the season and only played 12 full games throughout the 2011 season.
For the 2012 season, it feels like there is the perfect storm brewing for Julio Jones to come in and challenge the record that Rice has held for 17 years now. He is finally fully healthy after having the full offseason to heal.
White was quoted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter as saying he needs to take a smaller role:
“I know that sounds crazy, but we’ve got other guys out there that can play,” White said. “Julio [Jones] is going to be a big part of the offense this year. Harry [Douglas] is going to do wonders in the slot. We have to maximize our talent and get the ball in everyone’s hands.”
It's hard not to believe that in the new offense that Jones will be one of the top two options in the offense that Atlanta runs. He is expected to be the second-best option in the offense, but if he continues to improve, he could exceed expectations again.
Jones also has a full year working with Ryan, White and Gonzalez and the overall feel and timing of the offense will come that much more naturally to him. Add in that there is a new scheme to take advantage of his vertical prowess under Dirk Koetter and this could be one of the best years of a young wide receiver's career.
If Jones has the same kind of longevity to his career that Rice had, he could end up being not just a threat to a single-season record that the best WR of all time holds but a threat to career records that he holds.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?