In a recent article and interview by Pete Prisco, Julio Jones says he believes he’s the best wide receiver in the league. Jones isn’t the first wide receiver to make a bold statement about himself but declaring yourself better than the gold standard Calvin Johnson isn’t something we’re accustomed to hearing. After all, Johnson’s outrageous level of play has earned him the nickname Megatron.
Johnson has been dominating the league for the last few years and has pretty much everything you would want in a wide receiver. Size, speed, strength and catching ability he has in abundance. He is considered the perfect wide receiver in today’s game. He’s able to catch a short pass, break a tackle and get first down yardage. He’s also able to effortlessly get deep behind coverage and catch long touchdowns. Hang on, are we talking about Johnson or Julio here?
Julio is also a tremendously gifted athlete. He might not have Johnson’s size but I’d argue he generates more power when he changes direction, leading to quicker and more explosive cuts when route running. Terry Robiskie, the Falcons assistant head coach and wide receiver coach, said the following about Julio.
“You’re talking about a vertical, explosive guy who… Julio moves the earth when he runs. People don’t realize that. When Julio passes by you, the ground is shaking. That’s power, that’s speed, that’s explosion. I love Calvin. I coached Calvin in the Pro Bowl. But the only guy I’ve ever been close to that’s powerful and explosive like Julio Jones is a guy named Bo Jackson. And I coached Bo for about three, four years with the Raiders. Bo, that’s the only other guy that I’ve been around when he passes you, the earth was shaking and the breeze went by. You knew Bo just passed you.”
Robiskie’s take is fascinating praise and gives the fans a good insight of the rare skillset Julio possesses. I think he does have the talent to be just as good as Johnson, and he’s very close right now. The one thing I think that separates them is the ability to make contested catches. The mentality that any ball thrown their way is theirs and no one else’s and accompanied with the focus and hands to complete the catch is what I believe to be the final skill needed for many of the great receivers today to join Johnson as the best receiver in the NFL.
Aside from that, everything else I think is nip and tuck between the two. I can’t agree yet with his claim that he’s the best, but he does have an awfully good shot sometime in the near future. I can definitely understand ranking him as high as #2, but Megatron is on his own planet right now.
As long as he can stay away from injuries, Julio Jones’ career should be nothing short of magnificent. He is still young and has many productive years ahead of him with Matt Ryan at quarterback. He was on his way to producing historically great numbers this year which would have seen him finish 2nd in yards and receptions all-time. Let’s not forget that was just his 3rd year in the NFL too.