For an elite receiver, Julio Jones can sometimes be divisive. He doesn’t score at the clip of some of the NFL’s best and he has those small handful of weird mishaps, like the wide-open drop against the Panthers, that nettle some fans.
He is an elite receiver, however, by virtually any metric besides scoring that you want to consider. Consider this, the average number of yards picked up per route run. Julio blew Antonio Brown out of the water, and Brown in turn blew Keenan Allen out of the water. That’s...impressive.
While the lack of scoring hurts Julio’s fantasy value and remains a little puzzling in real life, the fact of the matter is that receivers that are as fast, big, and skilled as Julio are impactful in many other ways. At worst, Julio draws attention away from other options in the passing attack because of how fearsome he is, and at best, he’s picking up chunk yardage while a 5’11” cornerback flails futilely away at him. The fact that he made the most of his routes in a largely disappointing year for the offense is significant, and it tells you that despite those weird drops, Julio was still one of the NFL’s best. It was ever thus.
Considering this was widely considered an off year for Julio—and not without justification—2018 figures to be a very nice year if he can just limit the drops. If the Falcons can get a little more out of Austin Hooper and the #3 receiver role, and Steve Sarkisian can make better use of the weapons at his disposal, it’s only going to make it easier for Julio to eat this season. Hopefully, that will mean a season that’s significantly more impressive than 2017, which will in turn help to fuel a resurgent Falcons offense.