TUSCALOOSA AL - NOVEMBER 26: Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide is tackled by Neiko Thorpe #15 and Eltoro Freeman #21 of the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 26 2010 in Tuscaloosa Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Unless you're new to Buffalo Rumblings within the past few days, you're by now well aware of our Baker's Dozen series, profiling 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects that we believe should - or in some cases, will - be in the conversation for the Buffalo Bills' third overall pick.
Per our pre-draft coverage plan, we'll be running a series of five posts for each prospect. That series starts today, with this very post, but first, a bit more detail: starting tomorrow, we'll have more than one post of this series up per day. At the end of the final series post of the day, we'll tell you what's coming tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll be accurately setting your expectations, and not digging ourselves into a deeper hole.
After the jump, our Baker's Dozen series begins with a physical (i.e. what you see on the field and athletically) scouting report of Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. Though he's widely regarded as the second-best receiver prospect available this year, there are a few people out there who have Jones atop their list of receivers.
Defining Trait: Physicality. Jones is, quite simply, one of the most physically imposing receivers to come out of the college ranks in recent memory. He's a big, strong player whose all-around game is built on those traits. He's outstanding after the catch, and when you read that he's got a phenomenal stiff-arm, it's not exaggeration. Jones will break tackles after making the catch. He's an excellent run blocker that, when his effort is maximized, is downright dominant in that area. Jones is hyper-competitive when the ball is in the air, and is capable of making plays in traffic.
Receiving Skills. For all of the hype Jones has been getting of late, he's still ranked below Georgia's A.J. Green in most cases because of his inconsistency making the catch. Jones will often turn and run before letting a throw in, or will try to catch the ball with his body; these tendencies lead to more drops than you'd like to see. That problem has nothing to do with poor hands; Jones' hands are excellent. He has great body control and adjusts to poorly-thrown balls better than most. For a player his size he's very flexible, can break down and get in and out of cuts quickly, and has the length and leaping ability to be a truly excellent deep threat. Can make breathtaking catches look routine. Will mis-time jumps on deep throws, leading to incompletions.
College Production. In his first two years, Alabama was a run-heavy offense. This allowed Jones to hone his excellent run blocking skills, but compounded by his inconsistency issues, he was not the focal point of the Crimson Tide's offense. This hurt his overall production, even though he put up respectable numbers. When Alabama played closer games and got more trust in Greg McElroy, Jones' production skyrocketed in his junior season. Alabama's offense is considered pro-style, with pro-style action and pro-style route combinations.
Julio Jones: College Statistics
|Julio Jones Totals||40||179||2,653||14.8||15|
Athletic Traits. Jones is tall (6'3") with long arms (33.8") and big, soft hands (9.8"). Surprised some people with a sub-4.4 40-yard dash time at the Combine, but does not quite play up to his timed speed. As is the case with most big receivers, it takes him a little time to accelerate up to full speed, but has the quickness and burst to avoid getting jammed at the line, and to create separation deep. The type of fluid athlete that, with the fine tuning of pro coaching, will eventually be an excellent route-runner. Has good deep speed, runs with control and purpose, and can break down and stop quickly. Very strong player that will impose his will.
Julio Jones - 2011 Combine Results
Injury Issues. Jones did not miss time at Alabama, but played through several dings that have scouts somewhat worried. These included minor knee and hand issues. Suffered a hairline fracture in his foot at the Combine that required surgery; he won't work out again pre-draft. Jones' physical style of play exacerbates this concern, as scouts fear that he will continue to suffer minor dings as he tries to run over/through NFL defenders.
Coming tomorrow in our Baker's Dozen series: Julio Jones' character scouting report; Nick Fairley's physical scouting report.