INDIANAPOLIS — The conversations surrounding receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine all start with Georgia’s A.J. Green and Alabama’s Julio Jones. The reaction on the field during workouts Sunday was that Green — the consensus top receiver in the draft — came “as advertised.” Jones, however, raised a few eyebrows with his display of speed.
Jones was impressive during the gauntlet drills, showing fluidity, good hands and body control while maintaining focus. And while his broad jump was best among receivers (11 feet, 3 inches — 2 inches below the combine’s best since 2000), what caught notice was Jones posting the third-fastest 40-yard dash time at 4.39 seconds. Impressive, given that Jones measured in at 6-foot-2 3/4 and 220 pounds.
“Jones ran faster today than I think anyone thought he would,” former NFL general manager Charley Casserly said. “I don’t think people thought this guy would run a 4.43 (the unofficial time on his first run). He doesn’t play that fast. But he’s a big guy who is physical. …
“People are going to go back and look at him. Some staffs will put more weight on his 40 time here than others will. Personally, I want the play speed. Use the time speed, but the play speed is what counts.”
Casserly still sees Jones going in the middle of the first round. NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks doesn’t expect Jones to last past the Rams, who pick 14th.
Jones offered this perspective on his performance: “They’re just drills. A lot of guys can run around and catch balls. I’ve seen plenty of 7-on-7 guys. It’s about what you do when you put the pads on. It feels good to come out here and just showcase your skills and your athletic ability. It doesn’t hurt, it’s a big stage. People want to see what you bring to the table. It’s a big stage. Are you going to tuck your tail or (man up)?”
Take Jones’ performance for what it’s worth. But teams looking for a receiver early in the first round of the draft might be hard-pressed to pass on him.