On January 7th, 2011 Julio Jones decided to forego his senior year and declare for the NFL Draft. So in February of 2011, the 21-year-old, a junior from the University of Alabama found himself competing at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
If you google “best NFL combine performances” you will see Bo Jackson from 1986 with a ridiculous 40-yard dash time, Deion Sanders the two-sport athlete from 1989 and even Tim Tebow in 2010 who didn’t make it very far in the NFL. However, you will not see Julio Jones’ performance ranked high.
While Jackson, Sanders, and Tebow were incredible athletes and put up memorable numbers at the NFL Combine, they did not do it with a fractured foot—Julio Jones did.
“Jet” Jones ran a top speed 40-yard dash time of 4.41. This was remarkable considering a man his size isn’t supposed to run that fast. Former Ole Miss wideout, DK Metcalf beat that time last year with a 4.33 time that drew a lot of attention. Metcalf may have beaten Jones’ record, but he didn’t beat it with a broken foot.
Jones did the three-cone drill in 6.66 seconds, the 60-yard shuttle in 11.07 seconds, and 17 bench reps. He had a broad jump of 11-foot-3, only an inch off as one of the top best jumps in combine history. He also had a vertical of 38.5 inches
In the 2011 pre-draft, Georgia’s A.J. Green who now plays for the Bengals was projected to be the best receiver and drafted No. 1 overall. Green performed pretty well at the NFL Combine, but Jones outdid him.
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2011 NFL Draft
Jones’ pre-draft profile said he was “an ideal NFL receiver size, explosive off the line, at up cushions in a hurry, a good blocker, and he was tough and extremely competitive.”
The Atlanta Falcons risked it for the biscuit (Julio) by trading away five draft picks in both of the 2011 and 2012 NFL Drafts. Jones was drafted in the first round as the No. 6 overall draft pick. He admitted he was shocked when he heard the trade, but told Atlanta he wouldn’t let them down.
Last season, “Jet” Jones became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 12,000 yards.
His top performance, let’s not forget with a broken foot that called for surgery, in Indy is the one reason he had made the jump from the 14th pick in many early mock drafts to No. 6.
But the real question lies, how much better would Jones have done without a broken bone holding him back?