Packers Host Blazing-Fast Kick Returner for Pre-Draft Visit

Velus Jones Packers Visit

Getty Velus Jones Jr. #1 of the Tennessee Volunteers runs the ball in the first half of a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on November 7, 2020 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The Green Bay Packers have taken an interest in a blazing-fast receiver from the 2022 NFL draft class who could double as a major special teams weapon next season.

Former Tennessee speedster Velus Jones Jr. revealed he was in Green Bay on Tuesday, April 5 when he shared a clip of his dress clothes and luggage in his hotel room on his Instagram story. While it is possible Jones simply finds it to be a nice city to vacation in, it is more likely he is visiting for a pre-draft visit with the Packers ahead of the 2022 draft later this month.

Jones clocked the fourth-fastest time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine last month and finished as the second-quickest receiver with a time of 4.31 seconds. He also made full use of his speed as both return specialist and a deep-threat receiver during his final season with the Vols in 2021, averaging 27.3 yards on 23 kickoff returns, 15.1 yards on 18 punt returns and 13.0 yards on 62 receptions with eight all-purpose touchdowns.

Receivers with top-end speed have certainly caught the Packers’ attention throughout the 2022 pre-draft process. They also hosted former Baylor wideout Tyquan Thornton — the only pass-catcher with a faster 40 time than Jones — for an official Top 30 visit back in March, according to Pro Football Network. He finished his 40 in 4.28 seconds at the Combine.

The Packers have also hosted a few other receiver prospects who figure to come off the board much sooner than either Jones or Thompson, including Ohio State’s Chris Olave, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks, Alabama’s Jameson Williams and Georgia’s George Pickens.

The latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Packers!

Jones Has Mountains of Experience as KR

Jones was one of the most productive return specialists in the country last season with a combined 900 return yards between kickoffs and punts — good for third-most in the FBS — but his resume as a returner is far stronger than one good season. Between his three seasons at USC and his two seasons with Tennessee, he fielded 122 kickoffs for a total of 2,973 return yards and managed to take two of them to the house, one in 2019 and one in 2021.

What’s most impressive about watching Jones return kickoffs is how he continues to identify and exploit weaknesses in the coverage as moves downfield, even when raw speed isn’t enough. Just look at how he evaded tacklers and worked his way to the end zone on his 96-yard return against South Alabama last season.

Jones’ continued success as a returner didn’t keep him from raising the ceiling on his receiving game, either. The 6-foot, 204-pound receiver touched career-best numbers in 2021 with 62 receptions for 807 yards and seven touchdowns, which is more production than his previous four seasons combined (58 catches, 627 yards, three touchdowns). While he possesses true deep-threat speed that allows him to blow past defenders in the secondary, he did some of his best work on shorter routes when his run-and-catch abilities could compensate for his unpolished route-running.

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x