Julio Jones was a highly sought after player heading into the 2011 NFL draft. Jones ended up being the second wide receiver drafted, behind AJ Green, but the Jones pick ended up creating the most buzz. The Atlanta Falcons were desperate to get Green or Jones, and when they lost out on Green, they made the Cleveland Browns an offer they could not refuse, in order to acquire Jones.
The Falcons gave the Browns their 2011 1st, 2nd and 4th round picks, in addition to the Falcons 1st and 4th round picks in 2012. The Browns used those picks to draft Phil Taylor, Greg Little and Owen Marecic in 2011, and Brandon Weeden in 2012. The Browns used the 4th round pick as part of a trade that allowed them to trade up to get Trent Richardson. In the short time since this trade has happened it looks like the Falcons made the right move.
Jones has been an impact receiver on one of the best teams in the NFC, and he has not even begun to scratch the surface on his potential. Jones is a big play receiver as evidenced by his career 16.2 yards per reception. Jones also averages 4.59 catches for 74.38 yards and 0.62 touchdowns per game. Jones reaches 100 yards receiving in 31% of the games in which he plays and scores 2 touchdowns or more 17% of the time. Jones also has 5 or more catches in 52% of his games, showing his ability to make a big impact. While these numbers are impressive, it is more important to look deeper into Jones’ production, as he is a completely different player on the road than he is at home.
Jones has the benefit of playing in a dome for the Falcons, which would lead you to believe that he would be a better player at home, but that is not the case for the Jones. In the Georgia Dome Jones only averages 3.2 catches for 47.3 yards and 0.36 touchdowns per game. Those numbers do not indicate the type of player that Jones is, but, for whatever reason, Jones has struggled playing at home, while his team has gone on to win 79% of those games.
In contrast, Jones is an absolute beast when on the road. Jones averages 5.9 catches for 99.7 yards and 0.87 touchdowns per game. Jones is a young player, but the ability to have this type of an average on the road demonstrates that he does not let the fans get into his head, but it begs the question; what is going on in his head during home games? Jones is an entirely different player at home versus on the road, but that trend should begin change for him.
Jones came in as the second receiver to Roddy White, and while White may still be listed as the #1 receiver on the depth chart, it is clear that Jones is the player that Ryan looks to in order to make the big play. Jones is a redzone weapon with his size and speed and has demonstrated his ability to make those catches with 8 touchdowns in his rookie season and 10 scored in 2012. Since the arrival of Jones White has failed to score more than 8 touchdowns in a season after totaling 21 touchdowns in the 2 years prior to Jones arrival. Jones has had another impact on Roddy White as White has seen his receptions total drop each year, from 115 in 2010 before Jones to 100 in 2011 and 92 in 2012. It is no coincidence when you look at the production from Jones whose receptions went from 54 in 2011 to 79 in 2012, and that trend should continue over the next few seasons.
Jones is the Falcons receiver of the here and now, as well as the future. Jones is building a great rapport with his young quarterback Matt Ryan and with the inevitable retirement of Tony Gonzalez, Jones will be the highlighted player in the Falcons offense. Jones has the ability to make the long bomb plays, as well as be a major factor in the redzone. The NFL and fantasy future are on the rise for Jones, and the Browns have reconsidered the trade and would like Jones back please.