HEIGHT: 5'11 3/4"
HAND: 9 3/4"
ARM: 30 7/8"
WINGSPAN: 6'1 1/2"
40-YARD DASH: 4.31
— Great speed. Top gear can separate from anyone.
— Smooth runner who can switch lanes with ease in space.
— Comfortable running vertical routes. Does well to separate down the field.
— Good contact balance with the ball in his hands.
— Experience and production as a punt and kick returner.
— Route tree is limited right now. Mostly a screen-and-go ball player at this stage.
— Needs to tighten up route running. Plays too loose and allows cornerbacks to get the jump on him.
— Uncomfortable seeing the ball in at times. Often has to throttle down to find the ball.
— Does not flash much ability to catch outside of his frame or in traffic.
13 G, 61 REC, 807 YDS (13.0 AVG), 7 TD,
23 KR, 628 YDS (27.3 AVG), 1 TD, 18 PR, 272 YDS (15.1 AVG)
— 3-star recruit in 2016.
— Began his career at USC before transferring to Tennessee in 2020.
— Six-year player, thanks in part to the added year of COVID-19 eligibility.
— 2021 first-team All-SEC (all-purpose).
Velus Jones Jr. is more of a return specialist than a wide receiver right now, but speed like his will always be a premium in the NFL.
Jones sprinted to a 4.31 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, and he backs that speed up on film. He may not have the immediate acceleration of some other stud speedsters, but once Jones gets rolling, he is tough to catch from behind. That rings true both with and without the ball in his hands, making Jones as much of a deep threat as he is a yards-after-catch weapon. With the ball in his hands, Jones can weave smoothly in between traffic and shows off impressive contact balance for a receiver of average size.
That being said, Jones is not a complete receiver right now. His route tree was largely limited to go balls, screens and slants. In the rare instances he was asked to run other routes, Jones lacked the technique or sharp movement skills to get in and out of breaks comfortably. Furthermore, Jones' hands are a concern right now. He struggles to catch balls outside of his frame or when contested in traffic, and he even shows some discomfort finding the ball in clean scenarios from time to time. It will likely take a couple years for Jones to iron out either of these issues.
Jones does offer immediate special teams value, though. Jones returned kicks in all five seasons he played, as well as returned punts for Tennessee in 2021. Though he can excel at both, Jones' build-up speed and weaving rushing style make him a great fit to return kicks from Day 1.
Jones may not be ready to play offense out of the gate, but he can be a team's starting kick and punt returner instantly. Jones' speed and yards-after-catch potential are worth trying to develop at wide receiver, though that may be a longshot for someone set to be 25-years-old as a rookie. The most likely projection for Jones is a starting returner and speed threat off the bench.
GRADE: 6.4 (High-level Developmental Prospect - 5th Round)
OVERALL RANK: 170
POSITION RANK: WR25
PRO COMPARISON: Devin Duvernay
Written by B/R NFL Scout Derrik Klassen