Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Velus Jones And Justin Fields Were Texting Over A Week Before The Draft


Sometimes fate plays funny tricks on players in the NFL. Velus Jones Jr. had no idea where he’d end up when he made his way to the pros after a long career at Tennessee. All he knew was he’d have to work hard to get attention from teams since he only had one standout season of production. That means performing well at the Senior Bowl, which he did, and then the scouting combine, where he ran a 4.31 in the 40-yard dash. That was enough to generate real buzz that he may go higher than people expected.

The only thing left was finding out which teams had serious interest in him and if he vibed well with any of them. It didn’t take him long to realize he had an instant connection with the Chicago Bears. They met with him multiple times before the draft and hard their private visit in mid-April. Everything went great. Even better than expected. Around that same time, he began communicating with an unexpected source—Bears quarterback Justin Fields himself. Jones told the story of how the two began developing their chemistry even before they were teammates on Late Hits with Alex Marvez and Charles Davis.

It truly felt like the football gods smiled down on him.

“Like a little bit over a week before the draft when I got off the phone with the staff, it was a great conversation, I told him (Fields) that it’d be crazy if I came to the Bears. He was just saying how they was watching film and stuff and liked my game. He said ‘We’ll see what will happen.’ And it’s crazy, you know, with the 71st pick I got the call and I’m a Chicago Bear. He texts me and says ‘We spoke this into existence.’

He told me to lock him in, gave me his number and stuff. Ever since then, man, a brilliant guy and his work ethic is just insane. He’s in the facilities every day. I know with this week off a lot of people aren’t here right now but he’s still in the building each and every day. Grinding and working. So that motivates me to see my quarterback putting in the work to have the season that he knows he can have.”

GM Ryan Poles confirmed part of that story right after Jones was drafted. He and Fields spent the weekend before the draft together watching film on potential Bears draft targets. The quarterback then wrote a list of names he liked. Jones was on that list. Poles kept that in mind as the draft unfolded. After nabbing Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker in the 2nd round, he turned his attention to the offense in the 3rd.

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When the Bears went on the clock at 71st overall, Jones was still on the board. The decision was easy at that point. Not only did the GM feel the Bears were getting a legitimate weapon that could help them in a variety of ways, but he was also getting someone that his young quarterback was already meshing with.

Velus Jones already has the attention of Fields in practice too.

Not much can be taken from what a player does in shorts. Still, it is clear to the quarterback that his new receiver is as-advertised. Blisteringly fast and dangerous with the ball in his hands. Fields is already dreaming of the possibilities they can do on screens, quick slants, and jet sweeps. Whatever it takes to get the ball in his hands. If their chemistry holds through the rest of the offseason, don’t be surprised if it leads to instant results.

Nobody expects Velus Jones to do much of anything as a rookie. Most draft experts weren’t impressed when the Bears drafted him. They felt better receivers were available. If anything, those low expectations work in his favor. Now he won’t have to worry about living up to them. He can simply go out and play.

Fields believes those people are mistaken.

What the Bears receiving corps might lack in name recognition makes up for it in talent. Jones, along with Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle, make for an athletic and explosive group. If the offensive line can hold up this year, the Bears quarterback has the kind of arm talent to make them stress defenses to no end.

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