NFL Draft 2011: 5 Things Julio Jones Brings to the Atlanta Falcons
After trading up to the sixth overall draft pick, the Atlanta Falcons decided to draft wide receiver Julio Jones from Alabama. The buzz that this trade may happen really started to heat up Thursday morning and continued to do so throughout the day.
Jones should give the Falcons an immediate impact opposite of Pro Bowler Roddy White.
To draft Jones, the Falcons had to give up their first, second, and fourth pick for 2011. They also gave up their first and fourth round picks for 2012. It was a steep price, and Falcons' fans will no doubt be paying close attention to what he does immediately for them.
Mike Foster did a fantastic job of describing some of this in his article on Julio Jones. Thomas Dimitroff hasn't led us astray yet, so hopefully it'll work out. Let's get on with what we do have in Jones though.
How much will Jones affect the offense this year? Let’s take a look.
Hard Worker and an Active Community Guy
Mel Kiper listed Jones as an above average guy when it comes to intangibles, and notes that he was considered a hard worker at Alabama.
Jones always is a guy that plays very hard in game and wants to help his team win by any way possible, including being a very good run blocker for a receiver.
Jones is also noted for being an active community member, including going to visit sick kids in hospitals. was also the 2009 recipient of the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence.
Jones showed exactly how good of an athlete he was at the Scouting Combine when he ran a 4.34 forty with a vertical jump of 38.5 inches. Oh, and he is listed at about 6’3” and 220 pounds.
Jones has the athletic ability to truly be a superstar at the next level and could become a legitimate number one wide receiver.
He used his athleticism well enough to pick up 78 receptions for 1,133 yards in 2011. He was an elite wide receiver physically and he produced in college. Both are good signs.
As if Falcons’ opponents didn’t already have enough on their hands with the physical style of runningback Michael Turner, but now they have to deal with the strength of Jones on the outside. Jones can stiff arm a guy to the ground, break arm tackles, or use that athleticism we talked about earlier to just get by you.
This will be a great skill with him lining up opposite of White, who is more of an elusive guy. Adding more balance to what was already one of the most balanced attacks in the league.
He used his physicality to score 15 touchdowns in college, including 7 in his junior year.
Brings Potential to the Wide Receiver Group
While White is an elite wide receiver, the same cannot be said for anybody else. Michael Jenkins has made his fair share of clutch catches, but lacks downfield speed. Harry Douglas didn’t produce much coming off a major injury, and the rest of the group is nothing more than guys that make plays here and there.
Jones gives you a successor to White whenever he starts to decline or retire. He will just make White’s job so much easier by making it where you can’t double team White on every play.
You can expect a slight drop in production from White as he won't get quite as many passes thrown his way, but you should see him be able to stretch the field a little more this year.
Will Help Ryan Take the Next Step
Matt Ryan has quickly become one of the better quarterbacks in the league after being drafted in 2008. He’s already being considered by some as the best quarterback in the history of the franchise, and it could certainly be true as evidenced by the fact that he gave the team its first ever back-to-back winning seasons, and then won the division in 2010, making three in a row.
Giving Ryan another guy to throw to will help his continued maturation into the top level of quarterback play. Ryan seems to be on the verge of becoming a top five-type quarterback and is ready to make his official mark on the league and take the Falcons to a Super Bowl.
So what do you guys think? Was it the right move for the Falcons going forward?