If there was one selection in the 2022 NFL Draft that has analysts talking, it was the Chicago Bears’ decision to pick Tennessee wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. in the third round. Before the draft began, the Bears had a huge need at wide receiver but decided to bypass more highly regarded prospects in the second round for cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker.
Then came the third round, and while the wide receivers thinned between Bears picks, choosing Jones was still a surprise. He wasn’t graded as a top-75 prospect by most outlets. Instead, he was viewed more like an early day-three player. But General Manager Ryan Poles and his scouting staff thought differently, making Jones the 71st overall selection.
One national media personality who likes the pick is ESPN’s Todd McShay, who said he loves what Jones brings to Chicago’s offense.
“I love Jones’ upside. He’s a tad under 6-foot and is still refining his route running, but look at his speed and contact balance,” McShay wrote. “He is a threat any time the ball is in his hands, with instincts and elusiveness in the open field and the breakaway speed to take the top off the defense. Jones’ 4.31 in the 40 ranked fourth among all participants at the combine and second among receivers, and he’s built like a running back.
“Chicago can get the ball in his hands on quick slants and let him pick up extra yards. They can target him on deep shots. They can get him involved on sweeps. And they can use him in the return game, where he averaged 24.4 yards per kickoff return and 15.1 per punt return during his college career.”
The film matches McShay’s assessment, and it’s become somewhat of a surprise that there’s been so much criticism around the Bears’ decision. At this point, it doesn’t matter where Jones was picked or whether Chicago reached. Instead, it’s about what he can do for quarterback Justin Fields and the offense, and with a blend of elite speed and open-field elusiveness, there’s a lot to like about what he’s going to bring to the field next fall.
Jones may not have been the popular pick, but it’s beginning to feel like he was the right choice for the Bears.