Scouting Report: Velus Jones Jr., WR, Tennessee

Inexperienced Bay Packers followers are calling for a whole overhaul of their particular groups unit. After final season, who can blame them? One of many workforce’s newest exercises, former Tennessee receiver Velus Jones Jr., could possibly be the answer to their return recreation points. According to Jones’ Instagram post last week, he made the journey to Inexperienced Bay, making him the fifth receiver prospect who has been confirmed to satisfy with the Packers this month.

Right here’s what you might want to know concerning the First-Workforce All-SEC return man:

Basic

Jones, who grew up within the Cellular, Alabama space, was initially recruited to USC by coach Tee Martin, who labored as a receivers coach and offensive coordinator whereas Jones was with the Trojans program. Martin would depart in 2019 to grow to be the assistant head coach and receivers coach at Tennessee, the place Jones would switch to a yr later.

The connection to Martin receivers on the Packers’ roster is already very robust. Martin coached Randall Cobb at Kentucky when the now slot receiver transitioned from quarterback to receiver. Martin can also be the daddy of 2020 third-round decide Amari Rodgers, the one receiver on the workforce whose contract goes past the 2022 NFL season. Whereas Martin, now with the Baltimore Ravens, didn’t coach Jones final yr, he was instrumental in bringing Jones to separate applications.

As a result of NCAA granting a sixth yr of eligibility for any participant who participated within the 2020 season, Jones is a sixth-year senior who already holds a grasp’s diploma, an agricultural management, schooling and communications diploma that he earned final December. A late-breakout offensively, Jones largely performed within the slot for the Volunteers offensively and didn’t start the 2021 season as a full-time starter for the workforce.

Positives

After recording 628 kick return yards (together with a landing) and 272 punt return yards, Jones was named the SEC’s co-special groups participant of the yr for the 2021 season. For everything of his faculty soccer profession, together with his stops at each USC and Tennessee, Jones registered 2,973 profession kick return yards, although 2021 was his solely season returning punts on the faculty degree.

To place that into perspective, he had greater than twice as many kick return yards in his six years of faculty soccer than he had receiving yards (1,434.) As a receiver, Jones has some plus traits, together with his explosiveness off of the road of scrimmage and hand preventing downfield. He’s stable out and in of his breaks and his 6’0”, 204-pound body packs some decrease physique energy to go together with his 4.31-second 40-second long-speed.

Negatives

The truth that Jones had such a scarcity of offensive manufacturing as a sixth-year participant ought to be talked about instantly as a crimson flag. Had Jones been a member of the 2021 draft class, which he would have been previous to the NCAA’s ruling for sixth-year eligibility, Jones would solely have recorded a single 100-yard receiving recreation in his faculty profession. Happily for him, he was capable of hit that mark 3 times in 2021, elevating his inventory to the place it’s at this time.

Past his age and expertise, his offense makes it considerably tough to judge his expertise and is one purpose why he could also be so uncooked across the edges. A whole lot of his manufacturing got here out of the slot on screens, which is why he averaged simply 12 yards per reception on the faculty degree. Tennessee runs a variation of the Artwork Briles offense that options very large splits by its wideouts and has receivers “working” lifeless routes, that are basically telling one facet of the sphere to take a break for a play. That is additionally, to a decrease diploma, a difficulty with Arkansas’ offense. The Packers additionally introduced in Razorbacks receiver Treylon Burks, a possible first-round decide, for a go to this offseason.

Regardless of working a blazing quick 40-yard sprint time, Jones seems to be a lot sooner with the ball in his hand than when he’s making an attempt to create separation downfield. When he was working crossers, he didn’t appear like a 4.3 pace man. His body can also be one thing that appears higher on paper, as he’s simply an okay blocker.

Closing Ideas

Jones is a really attention-grabbing prospect in that he’s clearly a particular kick returner, however his function on offense just isn’t clearly outlined. Constructed like a working again with the pace of an Olympian, he’s nonetheless very uncooked for a sixth-year senior who’s already 24 years previous. Tennessee clearly tried to do its greatest to feed him in 2021 after they realized the injury he might do within the display screen recreation, nevertheless it’s price enthusiastic about him as a smaller model of a Cordarrelle Patterson as an alternative of as a real receiver. At the very least early on, his touches will have to be manufactured, which is perhaps not the route you wish to go offensively when you’ve got a back-to-back MVP below heart.

Based mostly on his particular groups worth and his measurables, even along with his lack of manufacturing and restricted skillset, Jones ought to be a participant who’s taken on Day 3 of the draft and begins as a kick returner instantly for a workforce. If he doesn’t handle to win a battle for a kick return place in camp, although, he could also be one of many 2022 draft picks who finds themselves on the observe squad in September.

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