Julio Jones came into the NFL through the 2011 NFL Draft, which has become one of the best ever. Highlighted by Cam Newton and Von Miller at the top, this class also featured Marcell Dareaus, Patrick Peterson, J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn just to name a few. There were a handful of receivers that went in the first two rounds with A.J. Green going off the board first thanks to the Cincinnati Bengals and their fourth overall pick.
Sitting in the sixth position of the draft were the Atlanta Falcons who were desperate for an offensive playmaker to complement franchise superstars Roddy White and quarterback Matt Ryan. The organization truly felt that they were just a few pieces away from making a run, so they delivered a godfather deal to the Cleveland Browns in order to move up from 27th overall to take Julio Jones out of Alabama with the 6th overall pick.
It was an insane deal at the time. Hell, it still is. Atlanta traded away two first rounders, a second rounder and two fourth-round selections to nab Julio Jones. That's five players for the guys that ranked out as the second best receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Making matters even more frustrating for Falcons fans is the fact that Julio's college numbers weren't exactly otherworldly. He had racked up 2,653 yards in his three-year stint at Alabama along with 17 total touchdowns. Almost all of his production came in his senior year.
Of course, Jones was noted as perhaps the best receiving threat in the country during his apex. Coming out of high school, Jones was the top rated receiver in his class. He went on to become a decorated collegiate athlete with SEC Rookie of the Year honors from his 2008 season, a BCS National Championship in 2009 and a first-team All-SEC selection in 2010.
Beyond that, fans loved him. Jones has such an explosive style of play that's impossible not to notice him. And that's largely because he can do everything. Jones began his career in the NFL playing opposite Roddy White, but it was evident from the start that he was the go-to guy right off the bat. With 959 yards and 8 touchdowns in his rookie year, along with a trip to the playoffs to end the campaign, Jones established himself as a big deal early on.
Still, five picks is a lot to give up for any one player. The sophomore season in the NFL was solid as he caught 79 passes for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns but then disaster struck the following year when he missed almost all of 2013 due to a foot fracture. That's the type of injury that can plague a guy's career. Cleveland obviously screwed up the five picks that Atlanta gifted them, but it was still a tough pill for fans to swallow, especially as Roddy White was stroking the very end of his productive career.
Jones returned in 2014 and quickly put all those concerns to rest. He logged 104 receptions for 1,593 yards and then followed that up in 2015 by leading the league with a mind boggling 136 receptions for 1,871 yards and 8 touchdowns. Any concerns that Julio wasn't physically fit to produce world shattering numbers were silenced over the past three seasons.
There's no doubt that Julio is one of the best receivers in the NFL and you can make the argument that he's the top one alongside Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr.
Julio Jones has all the qualities you want out of a superstar receiver - exceptional route running, breakaway speed, brutally efficient hands and a keen sense for how to ruin his defenders. There simply isn't anything he can't do, and in an offence that's as balanced as Atlanta's, he truly shines.
The Falcons rolled the dice in a massive way to get Julio Jones and the gamble paid off. Think about other teams that did something of equal gravity - like the Redskins with Robert Griffin III - and you understand how dicey that proposition is. It turns out that Atlanta knew what they were doing because they understood just how special this guy could be.
And of all the things we know about Julio Jones - his hands, his ability to make big plays, and the unstoppable way in which he runs - the one thing that often gets overlooked is the funniest fact about him.
Did you know that Julio Jones' real name is Quintorris Lopez Jones?
Just when you think you know a guy….