Bears need Velus Jones Jr. to step up this season
Brett Davis - USA Today Sports

Bears need Velus Jones Jr. to step up this season

by - Senior Writer -

When the Bears drafted Velus Jones Jr in 2022, there were a lot of questions with that pick, but also tons of potential.

Jones was one of the older rookies in his draft class, and some felt his age would be a concern. He was also an unpolished route runner with inconsistent hands, which you saw throughout his rookie campaign.

However, there were many things people liked about him, and the first thing that comes to mind is his size and speed. At 6-1 and pushing 200 pounds, Jones Jr has the size you look for in an NFL WR but lacks the consistent playing time to produce. His 4.3 speed landed him as one of the fastest players in his draft class, and many thought he could become the vertical threat for Justin Fields like he was during his time with Tennessee.

Perhaps the biggest part of Jones Jr's game that is often overlooked is his return ability, as he was known as one of the most dynamic returners in the league. Granted, fewer returns are happening than ever before, but if he does have an opportunity to run one back, teams need to take notice, as he can break the big one in the blink of an eye.

Now that his rookie season is complete, and one that was filled with plenty of growing pains, Jones Jr has come into training camp with a fresh mindset, and many feel he could be on the verge of breaking out this season. Considering he had seven receptions for 107 yards last season and 44 coming on one play, it shouldn't be that hard to improve upon those numbers, but with N'Keal Harry out of the picture, Jones Jr could be ticketed to be the No. 4 WR once camp breaks.

Looking at the Bears WR core this season compared to last season, two things are drastically different. Not only are they a bigger group with the addition of Chase Claypool, but they are also one of the fastest WR groups as DJ Moore, Claypool, Jones Jr, and Darnell Mooney all possess elite speed and can take the top off of a defense. Mooney and Moore will be your route runners, Claypool and the Equanimeous St. Brown will be the possession/jump ball guys, while Jones Jr has the opportunity to be the deep ball threat Fields lacked a season ago.

If that is the role he takes on, it is a role he would be very familiar with, as he was known as the big-play/deep ball threat while in college. Despite not having more than 800 yards in a single season while in college, Jones Jr was more of a possession guy with the Volunteers but made things happen when he was given the space. It wasn't until his final season that he started showing his true potential, finishing with 807 yards and seven scores that year.

Another reason some feel he will have a breakout year is his ability to break the big one every time he touches the ball. That could be in the return game, where he averaged better than 27 yards per return in college, or the backfield on jet sweeps, as he would create a matchup problem for LBs and the front seven. If you had to compare him to someone recently on the Bears, you could say he is a younger and faster version of Cordarrelle Patterson, and we know how he panned out in Chicago.

Jones Jr will be a big play guy who can impact the game in various ways. He needs the ball in his hands, and the Bears will get creative in getting him the ball. This is one of the players most Bears fans are excited to see this season. If he does turn into the next version of Patterson, Jones Jr will add an explosive element to this offense that not many teams have and could be an X-Factor all season.

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