Latest NFL Ranking Has Julio Jones Below No. 1 Spot

Julio Jones

Getty Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons.

Many Falcons fans across the globe are saying “What!?” out loud right now. Atlanta might not be the best at winning Super Bowls, but they’re pretty spoiled when it comes to reassurance that their All-Pro receiver is No. 1.

In a recent ranking of the NFL’s top 10 receivers for 2020, well respected CBS Sports writer Jared Dubin ranks Julio Jones at No. 2 below Michael Thomas who tops the list.

Dubin Says Jones Needs a Stat Named After Him

While Dubin puts Jones at No. 2, he says he wouldn’t put up a big argument if Thomas and Jones were flip-flopped. So why is Jones at No.2 this time instead of No. 1? Heres what Dubin has to say:

Jones is the yards per route run king. Among wideouts with 50-plus targets, Jones has ranked first, fourth, first, first, first, first, and fifth over the past seven seasons. That is completely insane. They should just name the stat after him at some point.

Even during the three seasons since his last First Team All-Pro appearance (2017 through 2019) he leads the NFL in yards per route run, with a 2.80 average. His per-16-games average during that time is 102-1,537-6, with a 63 percent catch rate. (He’s played 47 of 48 games.) The ridiculous touchdown concerns should have been written off immediately when they first surfaced, considering he he scored eight, 10, six, eight, and six times during his first five healthy seasons, but hopefully his 14 scores over the past two years put them to bed for good.

Jones is a massive target at 6-3, 220 pounds and is still an excellent downfield threat, and it’s really only his decline in yards per reception (17.0 -> 16.4 -> 14.8 -> 14.1) and per target (10.9 -> 9.8 -> 9.9 -> 8.9) over the past several years that keeps him out of the No. 1 spot. (Though I wouldn’t put up much of an argument if you flipped him and the guy we have there now.)

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Thomas Can Create First Downs

So, this is where Dubin draws the line.

According to Dubin, 50.5 percent of Thomas’ targets have resulted in first downs, compared to Jones with 47.4 percent. That’s it. That’s the stat that he says sets them apart.

Dubin goes onto drool over Thomas saying ” He is the best in the league out of the slot, the best in the league on slants and hitches, his hands are made of stick-um, he’s got terrific size (6-3, 212 pounds) and strength (78th percentile in the bench press at the combine), elite change-of-direction skills, out-of-control footwork … basically, he’s got everything.”

Like okay, get a room?

Thomas may average 8 touchdowns per game while Jones averages 7. But where Jones dominates is in his average yards per reception. Jones averages 15.2 yards per reception while Thomas averages 13.6. So who is the real winner now?

I will say, at the end of the day though it’s kind of hard to compare two players who entered the league five years apart.

Jones Remains Matt Ryan’s No. 1 Option

The 2020 season is looking to be in Falcons favor this year especially with the NFL’s No. 1 receiver, Julio Jones (That’s right, Dubin) back at it again and a better offensive line to keep Matt Ryan on his feet.  However, Jones’ status isn’t going away anytime soon. At least Dubin got that right.

“Jones will remain Matt Ryan’s No. 1 target, and with Austin Hooper leaving in free agency he could even see his target share expand,” Dubin said. “Calvin Ridley is a strong No. 2 wideout but not particularly threatening to Jones’ status as the top dog in this offense.”

Jones’ career is certainly not on the horizon anytime soon and we’ll see if Thomas can keep up with the old head this year.

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