Julio Jones has had thousands of workouts in his life, none more important than his time yesterday at the NFL combine, where millions of dollars rest on tenths of a second.
Jones was always considered one of the elite wide receiver prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft. After running the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds and broad jumping 11'3" (the top overall distance), Jones might have surpassed former Georgia star A.J. Green for the top receiver spot in the 2011 NFL draft.
Beyond pure athleticism, Jones is also known for his toughness. In addition to playing hurt last year against Auburn, last week he compared himself to Ray Lewis because he loves to hit defenders downfield. Coaches love receivers that have the ability to block; they love receivers that love blocking even more.
One issue scouts have with Jones' game is his hands. He dropped a number of catchable balls last year. Although he only dropped one ball in an hour of drills at the combine, catching a football in a game situation can't be replicated in a workout, no matter the stakes.
Green and Jones may both be picked in the top 10, leaving teams in desperate need of receivers looking for other options. The Chargers, Chiefs and Rams all have needs at wide receiver. If they want to take a receiver in the draft, these teams will either have to look to trade up or draft a player like Maryland's Torrey Smith, a high-upside guy who is far from a sure thing.
It will be tough for NFL teams sitting on top picks to pass up Jones' unique blend of size (although listed at 6'4" in college, the Combine measured him at a still-tall 6'2") and speed.
Combine stars bloom and bust in the NFL annually. Whether Jones will figure out how to use his freakish athleticism to drive opposing corners crazy remains to be seen. Regardless, he has created a competition with A.J. Green over who will be the first receiver off the board.