I’ve been promoting Dwight Jones a lot and so far in 2011, he’s justified the attention. This is a player that has battled issues off the field, a lack of consistency and a general difficult situation at North Carolina with suspensions galore and mayhem behind the scenes. All the while Jones has been this raw talent, ready to excel and stamp his authority on the ACC and maybe one day the NFL.
It’s finally happening.
He could very well be the best senior prospect in his class. He may well be the best overall receiver too – ahead of Alshon Jeffery, Justin Blackmon, Jeff Fulller, Michael Floyd, Mohamed Sanu and any other name you want to throw out there. Jones has the complete physical package you want in a NFL receiver – size, hands, speed. He consistently finds ways to get open, something you just can’t teach and his ability to create separation against good corners in the ACC is a major plus point. He’s a deep threat but also has the acceleration from a standing start to punish teams on shorter routes.
Yet the thing that really stands out for me is the way Jones reacts and adjusts to the football so naturally. He’ll bail out your quarterback if he’s a fraction off target, he’ll make difficult catches look easy. His route running could use some polish, but we can’t expect a plethora of receiver prospects to be AJ Green in that department – it’s just part of the learning process.
Taking everything into consideration I truly believe he best fits the pure #1 WR role you want from a first round pick better than anyone else eligible for 2012. Consistency has been an issue in the past as we’ve mentioned, but not this season. In five games he has 514 yards and six touchdowns from 33 receptions. That’s more than Justin Blackmon (38 catches, 450 yards, four touchdowns) - the consensus pre-season favorite to once again win the Biletnikoff this year.
The tape above – courtesy of JMPasq – shows his performance against UNC this year and although it’s only a teaser, I’d highlight the play he makes at the 0:35 mark. Pure speed, ability to accelerate quickly with YAC to boot. Look how quickly he gets up field after beating the first linebacker, that’s incredible pace for a man listed at 6-4 and 225lbs. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that he deserves a high first round grade and has the potential to become a real force in the NFL. Forget Jeffery and Blackmon, this is a guy to watch with real ability to be an early pick. His stock will grow if he continues to play at a high level.
If you want to see evidence of downfield seperation and to further understand why I’m spending so much time pushing this guy, check out the video below of his performance against Florida State last season – courtesy of Aaron Aloysius: