Easily the most enjoyable content the Chicago Bears have put together each year is their 1920 Football Drive series. It is a three-episode miniseries that encompasses the start, middle, and end of the offseason for the team with all the changes in between. With it comes some of the very few inside looks at how the organization operates. The latest episode didn’t disappoint, as it covered the lead-up to the 2022 draft. Amidst a series of intriguing storylines, few were better than the one surrounding Velus Jones.
Most people know the main plotline. The Tennessee wide receiver had a strong breakout year in 2021. He followed that with an excellent showing at the Senior Bowl and put the icing on the cake with his 4.31 in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. The second-fastest time of anybody at the event. GM Ryan Poles, the scouts, the coaches, and even quarterback Justin Fields felt he had the skill set that could fill a big void on offense for them.
Now we have an inside look at how that came together.
During the scouting combine, the Bears provided an extended look at Poles, the front office, scouts, and head coach Matt Eberflus down in Indianapolis. It was here everybody got into a lengthy conversation about one player. Based on their comments, it is clear as day they’re talking about Jones. Not only his speed but also his charismatic personality and unique body type. Jones is a wide receiver but looks built more like a running back.
That reaction by Eberflus at the end was fun. Whatever clip he was watching apparently sold the head coach that Jones was somebody they needed to get on the roster if the opportunity came. Sure enough, the draft rolled around a few months later. After grabbing two defensive backs in the 2nd round, Poles felt the time was right to target a wide receiver in the 3rd. When the Bears went on the clock, Jones was still there. He made the call.
Velus Jones can’t wait to show everybody what he can do.
The critics of the pick weren’t long in coming. Many denounced the Bears for selecting a player that was going to turn 25-years old in May and had only one season of solid production as a receiver. While he is easily one of the best kick return specialists in the 2022 class, it wasn’t easy to justify him as a top receiving option. Poles stood his ground against the noise, stating it was the versatility that made Jones special.
People forget Tyreek Hill was a glorified return man coming out of college when the Kansas City Chiefs picked him. It didn’t take long for him to blossom as an All-Pro receiver. Velus Jones can do something similar. His route-running has significantly improved from where it was a year ago. He’s also great on slants, screens, and jet sweeps. Last but not least, he is a willing blocker in the run game.
His value to the offense isn’t exclusive to one thing.
They feel he can help them in a multitude of ways. Ways that other players on the roster can’t. In that context, it becomes far easier to understand the pick. Chicago had many problems with yards after the catch and wide receiver blocking last year. If Jones plays like he’s capable of, that will start to change.