Bears Nab ‘Most Deebo-Like Player’ in NFL Draft

Velus Jones

Getty Wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. was selected by the Bears in Round 3.

After going defense with their first two picks in the draft this year, the Chicago Bears finally went offense in Round 3, selecting former Tennessee wide receiver Velus Jones with the No. 71 overall pick.

The Bears chose cornerback Kyler Gordon with their No. 39 pick in Round 2, followed by former Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker at No. 48 before giving second-year quarterback Justin Fields a new weapon in Jones. At 25, the speedy wideout’s age has raised more than a few eyebrows, but his skill set is intriguing.

In fact — one top draft expert thinks Jones may be the second coming of San Francisco 49ers All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

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Jones Has Speed, Size & Versatility

Jones spent four years at USC, where he was primarily used as a kickoff returner. He caught 36 passes for 347 yards and a touchdown before transferring to the University of Tennessee in 2019. He played two seasons with the Volunteers, having a breakout season last year, finishing with 62 catches for 807 yards and seven scores.

He brings some serious return skills to the table. Over his collegiate career, Jones averaged 24.4 yards on 122 kickoffs with two TDs. He returned punts for the first time in 2021, running back 18 for an impressive 15.1-yard average.

The 6-foot, 200-pound Jones elevated his status at the Senior Bowl, standing out in both practice:

And in the game itself:

He also impressed at the scouting combine, running the second-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.31 seconds) amongst all WRs in attendance. Draft expert and insider Daniel Jeremiah called Jones the most “Deebo-like” player in the draft this year.

“To me the most Deebo-like player, and it would definitely be Deebo-like, he’s not the same talent, but Velus Jones from Tennessee is kind of that guy that’s really, really sturdy and strong and explosive, like real, real, real fast, somebody on jet sweeps, you see it in the kick return game with him, as well. Just get him the ball and let him go. He would be kind of that guy. … He’s kind of the most Deebo-like player in this draft,” Jeremiah said on an April 21 pre-draft conference call.

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Bears GM Won’t Make Deebo Comp Just Yet

Bears GM Ryan Poles was hesitant to compare Jones to Samuel, who is coming off an All-Pro campaign, but he admitted the Bears aim to use their newest receiver as a Swiss Army Knife of sorts.

“He’s special. There’s something about him … there is just an aura about him. Not only can he help our offense, he can help in many different ways,” Poles said about Jones after Day 2 of the draft.

Samuel had 1,405 receiving yards and six TDs on 77 catches during his All-Pro campaign last season, leading the NFL in yards per reception with 18.2. He also had 365 yards and eight scores on the ground.

“I’m not going to compare him to Deebo,” Poles added, in reference to Jones. “But he has that flexibility where you can put him anywhere: Backfield. Slot. Outside. And then he’s a returner, he’s gunner. There are so many different things that he can do. And then, always adding that element of speed is important because as a defense, you have to think, ‘where is he?’ You have to find out where he is and then all of a sudden that opens up other things for other people. So, he’s going to be a good player.”

Perhaps not in the same league as Samuel — but a comparison like that isn’t a bad thing for the rookie WR.

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