|| | College: Alabama|
When Jones announced he was leaving Alabama in January, he was perceived as a power receiver whose niche in the NFL would be as a chain-moving possession target with particular upside in the red zone based on a history of manhandling smaller defensive backs.
Then he lit up the scouting combine.
Jones had been expected to time in the 4.5-second range, but blazed across the FieldTurf at Lucas Oil Stadium with a time of 4.34, bested by only three players in this draft class -- Miami (Fla.) cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke (4.25), Abilene Christian wide receiver Edmond Gates (4.31) and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson (4.31).
The workout cemented a top-10 overall ranking by NFLDraftScout.com, and scouts were even more complimentary after learning Jones completed his workout with a fractured foot. He also played with a broken hand at Alabama.
Even if his stopwatch speed is questioned because he didn't show the same elite second gear on the field at Alabama, Jones could be the most complete receiver in the draft, comparing himself to Hines Ward and his on-field demeanor and passion to Ray Lewis.
"I have a defensive mentality," Jones said. "I'm not scared to hit. I'm a physical guy. I look for that. I like to hit defensive players because they're not used to getting hit. They're used to hitting offensive players and getting them out of their comfort zone."
Alabama's offense was decidedly run-centric, suiting the principals of coach Nick Saban and the dynamic running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. While his statistics don't glimmer as they might have if he'd gone to Oklahoma -- the Alabama native's second choice coming out of high school -- being schooled by Saban and in an NFL-style offense readied him for the next level.
"I played in a pro-set at Alabama," Jones said. "They taught me a lot, how to block and everything else. Played West Coast in high school I'm pretty versatile."
Jones' foot injury prevented him from conducting private workouts, which limited teams from finding out how precisely he can fit in their offensive system with on-field route-running and on-the-fly defensive recognition. Even with his rare physicality and size, teams want to be assured that a history of drops won't be a long-term issue in the NFL.
"My hands were never an issue," he said. "I sometimes try to play too fast."
If Jones "plays fast" he'll be an instant hit.
Release: Good initial burst off the line of scrimmage. Long-strider with good build-up speed to eat up the cushion against corners playing off-man coverage. Excellent size and strength to defeat press coverage. Good use of hands to ward off defenders and has enough lateral agility and burst off the line to gain an immediate advantage.
Hands: Inconsistent. Drops too many passes due to a lack of concentration - usually when he's trying to make a defender miss before wrapping the ball up securely. Isn't a consistent "hands" catcher and allows too many passes into his pads, resulting in drops. Flashes the ability to extend and make the highlight-reel reception. Willing to run routes across the middle and take a big hit to make the catch.
Route running: Made his biggest gains in this area as a junior. Improved consistency with his route-running. Doesn't possess elite speed or the explosion out of his cuts, but has learned to sink his hips and plant firmly to generate improved separation on short and intermediate routes. Is able to get away with less than ideal route-running due to his size and physicality. Much stronger than most collegiate receivers and won't be pushed around by NFL defensive backs. Deceptive deep speed to challenge over the top.
After the catch: Among his better areas. Runs with a long stride but also possesses good agility to elude defenders in open quarters and the acceleration to run away from defenders. Rare strength to break free of tackles and gain yardage after the catch. Good vision to set up his blocks downfield due to experience as kick and punt returner.
Blocking: Among the better downfield blockers of the 2011 receiver class. Good size, strength and competitiveness. Keeps his head on a swivel and looks to help his teammates.
Intangibles: Proved his toughness by playing through various injuries over his career, including a broken hand in 2010. Highly decorated prep athlete rated the No. 1 overall prospect in the country by some scouting organizations. Involved with several local community service projects including the Santa America Foundation and local Optimist International club.
Compares to: David Boston, ex-Cardinals, Chargers -- Jones has enough deep speed to make plays downfield with the size, intensity and strength to overwhelm defensive backs as a run-blocker and possession receiver.
Julio Jones enters his junior season as one of the top wide receivers in the nation for the second straight year Jones was selected as a Playboy Preseason All-American has started 27 games during his UA career set every freshman receiving record in the Alabama books in 2008 and followed that with a solid season in 2009, helping the Crimson Tide to a consensus national championship a gifted wide receiver with tremendous hands, break-away speed and the ability to break tackles should contend for both All-America and All-Conference honors as a junior a second-team All-SEC choice by SEC coaches in 2009 a first-team freshman All-American and the Columbus (Ohio) Touchdown Club's National Freshman of the Year in 2008 2008 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and a second-team all-conference selection has caught 101 passes for 1,520 yards and eight touchdowns during his career was a 2009 Playboy Preseason All-American was one of 16 true freshmen to see playing time in 2008 and just the 11th true freshman to start a season opener for the Crimson Tide since freshmen became eligible again in 1972 turned in an outstanding spring practice in 2009, capturing the Ray Perkins Outstanding Receiver Award was selected as the 2010 Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award winner following spring drills.
Jones started 40 games in his three-year career and was able to leave his mark on the Alabama record books as well, exiting with the single-season record for yards (1,133) and receptions (78). He finished second in career (2,653) yards and receptions (179).
Julio Jones has came through for the Crimson Tide when they have needed him most in 2009 has started eight games after missing the North Texas contest and most of the FIU game with a bruised knee has worked to overcome those injuries and be Alabama's go-to wide receiver down the stretch of the season has a team-best 24 catches for 331 yards and two touchdowns 14 of his 24 receptions have been for first downs and five have come on third down averaging 13.8 yards per catch while drawing double coverage on almost every snap also returned punts vs. South Carolina and boasts a 15.0 yards per return average. Virginia Tech: Caught four passes for 46 yards with two going for first downs also rushed one time out of the wildcat formation for minus-1 yard. FIU: Caught one pass for nine yards and a first down vs. the Panthers, but bruised knee on the play and did not return. North Texas: Did not play due to a bruised knee suffered vs. FIU. Arkansas: Caught his first touchdown of the season on a 50-yard strike from quarterback Greg McElroy on a double reverse out of the wildcat formation also hauled in another 15-yard grab finished with two catches for a then-season-high 65 yards. Kentucky: Caught two passes for 13 yards while facing double and triple coverage throughout the game had a nine-yard reception on third down that moved the chains for the Crimson Tide on their 97-yard drive late in the second quarter.
Mississippi: Equalled his season high with four receptions totaled 42 yards in the air hauled in two catches that went for first downs, including one that moved the chains on third down battled double and triple teams for the entire game. South Carolina: Did not have a catch but played an outstanding game in other ways returned five punts for 75 yards with a long of 33 averaged 15.0 yards per return also recorded on tackle after an interception and then forced a fumble that the Tide recovered to keep possession. Tennessee: Produced his best game of the season to date with seven receptions for 54 yards hauled in three passes for first downs, including one on third down. LSU: He continues to get healthier, Jones' numbers keep going up came through with his biggest game of the season against LSU's stout defense, catching four passes for 102 yards - his fourth career 100-yard receiving game took a well executed wide receiver screen pass 73 yards for his second touchdown of the season to give the Tide a little breathing room in the fourth quarter.
Jones was SEC Freshman of the Year by the Associated Press and Sporting News first-team Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of American and Sporting News the Columbus (Ohio) Touchdown Club Freshman of the Year a second-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press, Sporting News, league coaches and Phil Steele three-time SEC Freshman of the Week (Western Kentucky, Tennessee and LSU) a Rivals.com Midseason Freshman All-American started at the X wide receiver recorded a team-high 58 receptions for 924 yards and four touchdowns set Alabama freshman record for receptions (58), receiving yards (924) and receiving touchdowns (4) passed Ozzie Newsome for the receiving yards record (374) and A.C. Carter for receptions and touchdowns fourth in the SEC and 59th nationally in receiving yards per game (66.0) and seventh in receptions (4.14) had 18 catches of 20 yards or more returned one kickoff for 21 yards and two punts for a 5.5 yards per return average 44 of his 58 receptions went for first downs or a touchdown with 11 coming on third down caught at least one pass in every game and at least three passes in 12 of 14 games had at least three catches in the final 10 games of the season had three 100-yard receiving games (at Tennessee, at LSU and vs. Florida) finished fifth with the fifth-most receptions (58) in a single season in school history his 924 receiving yards ranked as the fourth-best single-season mark at Alabama given the Offensive Achievement Award for his performance and production as an underclassman by the Alabama coaches. Clemson: Jones snagged his first career catch on an eight-yard bubble on the Crimson Tide's first drive of the year then hauled in his first career touchdown on a four-yard catch in the third quarter from John Parker Wilson finished with four catches for 28 yards and a touchdown averaged seven yards per reception returned one kickoff for 21 yards. Tulane: He caught one pass for 13 yards to kick start a fourth-quarter Alabama drive.
Western Kentucky: Jones caught a career-best five passes for 66 yards and a touchdown four of Jones' catches were good for first downs caught a 12-yard touchdown from John Parker Wilson in the third quarter also connected with Wilson for a 36-yard strike down the middle of the field named the SEC Freshman of the Week for his efforts. Arkansas: He caught one pass against the Razorbacks - a 25-yard touchdown strike from Wilson - for his team-leading third TD grab of the year. Georgia: Jones turned in a career outing with five catches for 94 yards and a touchdown the touchdown came late in the second quarter on a 22-yard fade pattern in the corner of the end zone that gave the Tide a 31-0 lead. Kentucky: He caught three passes for 52 yards all three receptions were good for first downs, including a 3rd and 13 catch that went for 23 yards. Mississippi: Jones snared three passes for 65 yards against the Rebels hauled in his first catch on a quick-hitting slant pattern that he juggled before securing the ball and then eluded defenders for a 40-yard gain early in the first quarter Jones then set up Alabama's first touchdown with a 25-yard catch down the sideline. Tennessee: He set a then-career high six receptions for 103 yards all six catches went for first downs set the school freshman record for single-season receiving years. Arkansas State: Jones hauled in five catches for 62 yards two grabs went for first downs, including one on third down that sustained a Tide scoring drive. LSU: He caught a career-high seven passes for 128 yards six of his receptions went for first downs, including two on third down his 24-yard reception over a LSU defender on Alabama's first play of overtime set the Crimson Tide up at the 1-yard line for the winning touchdown.
Mississippi State: Jones hauled in three passes for 53 yards all three catches resulted in first downs for the Crimson Tide. Auburn: He caught at least three passes for his eighth straight game with three grabs for 36 yards had two third-down catches for first downs just missed his fifth touchdown of the year, being knocked out at the three-yard line as he battled to take his 15-yard reception into the end zone. Florida: Jones could not be contained with a single defender, drawing double-teams and combination coverages from the Gators scorched Florida for 124 yards on five catches, including a season-long 64-yarder on the Tide's second drive of the game caught four passes for first downs, including one on third down. Sugar Bowl vs. Utah: He produced an outstanding Sugar Bowl performance with seven receptions for 77 yards the seven catches equaled his career high that he originally set at LSU on Nov. 8 hauled in a 30-yard reception, his seventh catch of the year that went for at least 30 yards.
Combine: 4.34 40-yard dash; 17 reps at 225 pounds; 38 1/2-inch vertical; 11'3" broad jump; 4.25 short shuttle; 6.66-cone drill.
He was a Parade All-American USA Today All-American ranked the No.1 overall player in the country by Sports Illustrated/Takkle.com nation's No. 2 overall prospect by ESPN The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 150 (No. 2) SuperPrep's No. 1 wide receiver nationally and No. 2 prospect overall ESPN.com Top 150 The Mobile Press-Register's Super 120 Team (No. 1) "Mr. Football" in the state of Alabama named to The Tampa Tribune's "Best of the South Team" SouthScout.com Stars of Alabama selection Gatorade Player of the Year (Alabama) an EA Sports first-team All-American Prep Nation 101 Honoree named to The Mobile Press-Register's Elite 18 Team (No. 1) five-star wide receiver by Scout.com rated as No. 1 wide receiver in the nation by Scout.com the No. 1 wide receiver in the nation and the top prospect in the Alabama Top 35 list by Rivals.com also called by Rivals.com as the best wide receiver in the nation "after the catch" rated as the No. 4 overall prospect in the nation on the Rivals.com Top 100 two-time All-American by Rivals.com (2006 and 2007) Scout.com All-American selection No. 2 player on the Scout.com Southeast 150 list.
SuperPrep/Scout.com Top 30 Alabama selection (No. 1) the No. 3 ranked overall player in the nation according to Tom Lemming of CSTV Rivals.com writes of Jones "Really outstanding feet for a big man. He gets out of trouble when hemmed in. He has great acceleration and can run after the catch. He shows really good concentration on deep balls. Team can use him on reverses and short routes. Hard to tackle in the open field." capped off high school career with six catches for 97 yards two-time The Birmingham News and Alabama Sportswriters Association All-State selection named to 2007 The Birmingham News' Super All-State Team named to 2007 ASWA Super 12 All-State team had 194 career catches for 3,287 yards and 43 touchdowns also added three rushing touchdowns, two kick return touchdowns, two punt returns and two fumble returns for scores scored 52 touchdowns in his prep career set Foley school record for career receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and total touchdowns holds the top three single-season receiving records at Foley with 75 receptions (2006), 68 receptions (2007) and 51 catches (2005) also holds single-season record with 1,301 yards in 2006.
As senior, tallied 68 catches for 1,181 yards and 16 TDs finished the year with 18 total TDs led the Lions to a 12-1 record and a Region 2 title before losing to Prattville in state quarterfinals hauled in a career-high 75 passes for 1,306 yards and 16 TDs as a junior concluded the season with career-high 20 TDs recorded 51 receptions for 805 yards and 12 TDs as sophomore in 2005 an outstanding track and field athlete named 2006-07 Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year (Alabama) community service projects include Santa America Foundation and local Optimist International club coached by Todd Watson.