Because I’ve recently begun posting scouting reports of the Atlanta Falcons 2016 draft class and it’s going to take time for me to slog through the dozens of games I plan to watch before posting the entire class’ reports, so I thought I might sate your appetite somewhat by posting some old scouting reports from 2010, 2011 and 2012.
I will post these scouting reports as I wrote them in the past, with only minor editing for grammar and syntax. I won’t change the content of the reports as they were written back then. I also modified the “skills” section to use the 10-point grading scale I use today. I used a five-point scale back then, so it’s really as simple as doubling the old values.
I’ll kick things off with the most prominent selection the Falcons made in those years: wide receiver Julio Jones.
School: Alabama Class: Junior
40 Time: 4.45 (estimated)
Has strong hands and does a good job going up for the ball, using his size and length well. Has good body control, and does a nice job adjusting to the back-shoulder throw. Uses his size to get position on the slant and can shield defenders over the middle. Has good straight-line speed and burst. Separates well on the short routes. Hard to jam because he can get quickly into his route and up to speed. Can be dangerous on screens because of a very good first step and when he can get north and south. Good with the ball in his hands and is a natural runner. Can be physical and a load to bring down after the catch. Uses a nice stiff arm and will lower the shoulder, as he is not afraid of contact. Uses his size well as a blocker, able to lock on and redirect corners on the edge. Physical at times and will also go up against linebackers in the run game. Good enough to run behind. Gets up to speed quickly and his straight-line speed is effective as a kickoff returner.
Inconsistent hands and has too many lapses in concentration. Double-catches balls at times and will let passes get into his body. Doesn’t always secure the ball before turning upfield after the catch. Doesn’t consistently make grabs in traffic. Effort as a blocker is inconsistent. Passion at times may get the better of him and can play out of control.
Jones has all the tools to be an elite NFL wide receiver and shows the physical ability to dominate his competition. He plays with a bit of an edge. I like the fact that he visibly stepped up his game against opponents like Patrick Peterson and consistently had some of his best games each year vs. LSU.
He didn’t put up great numbers at Alabama due to their insistence on the ground game, but he certainly contributed there with his blocking.
As a true freshman, came in immediately and was productive with 58 catches for 924 yards (15.9 avg) and four touchdowns. He was limited early somewhat due to a bruised knee, but his production slipped as a sophomore to 43 catches for 596 yards (13.9 avg) and four touchdowns. But as a senior, Alabama made efforts to get him more involved and he responded despite breaking his hand mid-season and playing through it. He finished with 78 catches for 1,133 yards (14.5 avg) and seven touchdowns. For his career, he also averaged 13.9 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns, returned 12 punts for an average of 10.8 yards, and seven kickoffs for a 23.1 yard average.
Jones has the potential to be one of the elite receivers in the league. Not only does he couple great size with speed, but he also plays a physical brand of football. The key with him is going to be consistency and effort. For the latter, I don’t think it’s that he’s lazy, just that sometimes he seems to play down to his competition. And I think whoever gets him in the pros, is going to have to push him somewhat to be great. If he shows that internal drive to be great in all assets of the game, he can be an unstoppable force at the next level, and become the caliber of receiver that you can build your offense around.
The best comparison for Jones is Andre Johnson, who had a unique blend of size and speed coming out of school, but also had his issues with drops and inconsistency. But Johnson worked hard to improve in those areas in the pros and came in right away and made an impact and I suspect Jones can potentially do the same.
I have little doubts that he’ll be a No. 1 receiver at some point in the near future. But with all receivers, there is the potential that they come in a little raw and not willing to do all the things in the film room or in practice with their route-running to hit the ground running as rookies. But Jones doesn’t strike me as a guy that will do that. Coming from a pro-style offense should help him in his transition to the pros. And simply put, he’s so physically gifted that he’s going to make some sort of impact as a rookie. That could mean he could catch 80-plus passes right off the bat, or maybe only 40. But I’d be shocked if he has the typical start of most highly drafted receivers that may take two or more years before they start to impact as starters. He should be much better than that.
Jones would be a perfect fit on the outside in Atlanta because he plays a similar, physical style as Roddy White. He can contribute as a blocker, but has the speed and athleticism to make plays all over the field just like White.
He is good enough to come in right away and be a starter, although the presence of Jenkins on the outside means that the Falcons can bring him along slowly. He has experience playing in the slot and would be a nearly impossible matchup for most nickel corners.
He has the talent to make Roddy an afterthought in the offense and could potentially give the Falcons the most dynamic pair of receivers in the league. It would probably take at least a year or two for him and Ryan to develop that sort of rapport to rival that of Ryan’s with White, but Jones has the ability to thrive in a run-based offense like the Falcons employ. But he is such an immense talent that it’s unlikely that it will remain a run-based offense for very long.
Jones is one of the top talents in this draft and worth a top five pick for a team looking for a potentially dominant No. 1 target.
Skills are graded on a 10-point scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
After Catch: 8.0
Body Control: 8.0