Back when the Falcons whipped up a giant bowl of draft pick salad and shipped it to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for the selection that landed them Julio Jones, we all acknowledged that he’d have to become an all-time great for the swap to be fully worth it. Fast forward from that august day in 2011 to present day 2017, when it has become abundantly clear that the trade was worth it.
Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown are two of the most commonly mentioned alternatives to Julio Jones as the best receiver in football, with Mike Evans coming on strong over the last couple of seasons. But if you ask people in the NFL, as Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller did, they’ll tell you almost to a man that Julio’s the best to do it.
In fact, 98% of the 30 personnel men, players, and coaches polled said Julio was the best. I’m no mathematics guy, but that seems good.
Criticisms of Julio chiefly focus on his injury history—which is somewhat legitimate, given that Julio usually is banged up or missing games here and there—or his lack of touchdowns, which has a lot more to do with the way the team prioritizes red zone targets than Jones himself. Beyond that, there’s just not much to criticize. We’re talking about a man who has averaged more receiving yards per game in his career than any receiver in NFL history. What else can you say aside from the fact that he’s absurdly good and we’re absurdly lucky to watch him on our favorite team?
Julio will remain the centerpiece of this passing attack as long as he’s healthy and able, which will hopefully be for many years yet. We should be talking about him as the best receiver in the NFL for that entire span, and it’s refreshing to see those who live and breathe the league agreeing with what we already knew.