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Jones distinguishes self as draft's most physical receiver

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About the Author

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Posted Feb. 27, 2011 @ 9:57 a.m. ET
By Nolan Nawrocki

Fourth of a six-part series

Each day during the Scouting Combine through Tuesday, we'll feature Nolan Nawrocki's in-depth scouting report of a top draft prospect.

WR Julio Jones, #8 (Junior)
Alabama
| Grade: 6.50
Ht:
6-2¾ | Wt: 220 | Sp: 4.41 | Arm: 33 3/4 | Hand: 9 3/4

Notes: Parade and USA Today All-American who was named "Mr. Football" in the state of Alabama after he finished his prep career with 194 receptions for 3,287 yards (16.9-yard average) and 43 touchdowns. Also was honored as the state's Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Made an immediate impact as a true freshman in '08 when he started all 14 games at the "X" receiver and produced 58-924-4 (15.9), setting Alabama's freshman receiving records in the process. In January '09, underwent surgeries to repair damage in his left shoulder and left wrist, then had hernia surgery in the spring. Recorded 43-596-4 (13.9) in 13 starts at the "X" receiver for the national champs. Led the Tide in receiving for the third straight season in '10, registering 78-1,133-7 (14.5) receiving with 8-135-2 (16.9) rushing and 5-129 (25.8) on kickoff returns in 13 starts at the "X' receiver. Bruised his right knee against Florida International and sat out against North Texas. Broke his left hand against South Carolina but didn't miss any games and caught a school-record 12-221-0 against Tennessee two weeks after having pins and screws inserted in his hand. Returned 12 punts in his career for 130 yards (10.8).

Positives: Extremely competitive. Terrific football temperament. Very physically and mentally tough — plays with a chip on his shoulder and battles through pain, playing through injuries that very few would have. Powers off the line, can separate with speed and savvy and climb defensive backs. Very physical runner after the catch — drops his shoulder and brandishes a wicked stiff-arm. Does not go down without a fight and sometimes requires a herd of defenders to bring him down. Very good run strength and competitive playing speed — took a reverse for a 56-yard TD against Mississippi State and ran through and away from defenders. Competes for the ball in traffic and shows great concentration — excellent catching radius. Could take a lick and hold on to the ball. Has strong hands, can make one-handed snags (see San Jose State), attacks the ball in the air and routinely makes difficult catches look easy. Well-versed in a pro-style offense and ran an NFL route tree — understands how to read coverage, sift through zones and uncover. Aggressive, physical blocker — erases cornerbacks. Outstanding work ethic — takes great pride in his craft. Interviewed very well at the Combine — is a very grounded, mature, unselfish, team player.

Negatives: A bit tight-hipped and straight-linish with noticeable body stiffness. Is not overly sudden off the line of scrimmage and struggles some beating press coverage against big cornerbacks — see LSU vs. Patrick Peterson (although he was playing the second half of the season with a broken hand). Is not elusive in the open field, often slamming directly into contact. Has been injured every year in college and will have more difficulty staying healthy for the length of an NFL season given his aggressive style of play and overall tightness. Could get in and out of breaks more quickly. Inconsistent connecting as a blocker. Struggled with drops earlier in his career and has been contained vs. Florida the last two seasons and against Texas in the BCS Championship. Injury history needs to be evaluated.

Summary: A very physical West Coast receiver who showed he could dominate against the big boys from the time he stepped on campus and will walk into an NFL starting lineup from Day One and make an immediate, playmaking impact. Can hold down a No. 1 receiving job and become a premier, Pro Bowl-caliber NFL pass catcher if he can manage to stay healthy. Would be an excellent fit for the Redskins, Ravens or 49ers. Long-term durability is the only notable concern.   

NFL projection: Top-10 pick.

 

Nolan Nawrocki's 2011 Draft Preview book, with scouting reports on approximately 500 prospects, will go on sale March 29 at bookstores everywhere. It also can be preordered at PFWstore.com either individually or as part of a combo-pack with the 2011 Draft Guide magazine, which goes on sale March 1.

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