There has been plenty of talk about whether the incoming rookies will be in attendance at this year’s NFL Draft, but we know now that Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones will be in the building on draft night. I know that many people believe that Jones will be gone when the Rams pick at 14, but I believe he will still be around. Here are five reasons why I believe Jones will be available for St. Louis in this year’s draft.
1. Receivers Tend To Fall: Other than the absolute top-flight guys, receivers tend to go a little bit later than most projections on draft day. Dez Bryant dropped quite a bit last year, and there wasn’t a receiver taken in the draft in which Donnie Avery was the first off the board in the second round to the Rams. I find it hard to believe that two guys at the position will go in the top 13 picks this year.
2. Defensive Lineman Depth: This draft is absolutely loaded with talented defensive linemen, and these players tend to be safer picks early in the first round than receivers. There’s plenty of talent out there, and I think teams will opt for a pass-rusher over a receiver.
3. AJ Green: Jones might have been the man at the Combine, but Green is the consensus top receiver in this draft. Unless something strange happens, Green will go before Jones in the draft. That means, if Green falls a bit to six or seven, that limits the teams available to take Jones. Going back to point 1, if Green falls a bit, that would be very good for the Rams.
4. No Free Agency: Because of the labor issues, teams can’t address needs through free agency, at least at this point. Receivers tend to have a steeper learning curve in the NFL then other positions, so teams could opt for players who can make an immediate impact. I think Jones is good enough to be a good player right away, but with the other talent available I think safer picks may go sooner.
5. Broken Foot: Jones is coming off an injury, and that might just be enough to get him to 14. Bryant had the same issue last season, and although he had some other issues that played into him falling, the injury obviously played a part. He won’t be doing much on-field work before the draft, and I think some of his luster from the combine might wear off before the end of April.
None of us really know what’s going to happen, and some of this might be wishful thinking on my part, but I still believe Jones will be there when we pick. At least, I really, really hope he will be.