How NFL experts graded the Bears’ selection of WR Velus Jones Jr.

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After using their first two draft picks on defense, the Chicago Bears finally got quarterback Justin Fields a weapon in Tennessee wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. with the 71st overall pick.

Wide receiver was Chicago’s biggest weakness ahead of the NFL draft, where Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle were the team’s top wideouts. General manager Ryan Poles opted to take a chance on Jones, who has blazing speed and has the potential to be dangerous in Luke Getsy’s offense.

Jones projects as a WR3 behind Mooney and Pringle, where the belief is Jones has an intriguing skillset but is still raw. He’s an unpolished route runner, but he’s one of the best run-after-the-catch wideouts in this draft class.

Here’s a collection of all of the grades for Jones from various sports outlets, and the analysts think the Bears might’ve reached on Jones, who has electric speed but remains unproven.

NFL.com

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

As a receiver-returner with explosive speed, quickness and burst, Jones should make his mark as a WR3/WR4 and return specialist early in his career.

Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

ESPN: 70

USA Today Sports

The Bears were looking for speed and they found it in Jones, who ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash. They also addressed a need on special teams by nabbing arguably the best returner in college football, who averaged 132.5 all purpose-yards per game in 2021. How Jones projects as a wide receiver in the NFL is a bit of an unknown considering his modest offensive production throughout a college career that began in 2016 at USC and culminated in him catching 62 passes for 807 yards and seven touchdowns at Tennessee. The Bears passed up on a handful of more proven receivers, including Jalen Tolbert, Calvin Austin III and David Bell. Chicago isn’t concerned about Jones being a 25-year-old rookie and is fond of his run-after-the-catch ability. Now they’ll have to figure out how he’ll be utilized as a weapon for quarterback Justin Fields.

Courtney Cronin, ESPN.com

The Athletic: D

USA Today Sports

Jones (6 feet, 204) had 62 catches for 807 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He spent six years in college — four at USC and two more at Tennessee. Prior to last season, Jones had never had more than 280 receiving yards in a season.

Jones has excellent speed (ran 4.31), but this is a head-scratching pick by the Bears. Jones ranked 182nd on Brugler’s big board. For a team with limited resources, why spend a Day 2 pick on a soon-to-be 25-year-old rookie slot receiver with one year of production? Maybe Jones will be great, but I don’t get this pick.

Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic

CBS Sports: B+

USA Today Sports

YAC phenom in the Deebo Samuel mold. Kick-return specialty appears when he’s catching the ball on offense. Not a route-running specialist. Crazy timed speed. Doesn’t quite play to that level. Old prospect who’s already 25. If he was younger, he’d have gone much earlier. Special with the ball in his hands.

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports

Pro Football Focus: Below Average

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Velus Jones Jr. is one of the oldest prospects in the draft, and he didn’t break out until his sixth season in college. Still, he possesses elite speed and showed real playmaking ability for the Vols in 2021. Jones generated 2.67 yards per route and a 131.0 passer rating on passes thrown his way.

Pro Football Focus

Draft Wire: B-

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, some help for Justin Fields. The Bears shouldn’t have passed on George Pickens twice, and Jones won’t give this offense the size it needs at wide receiver. That said, he’s an explosive pass-catcher with elite speed who should help Darnell Mooney challenge opposing defenses.

Luke Easterling, Draft Wire

For The Win: B-

USA Today Sports

Christian D’Andrea, For The Win

Bleacher Report: C-

USA Today Sports

Velus Jones Jr.’s speed and explosiveness are undeniable. His 4.31-second 40-yard dash made him the second-fastest wide receiver at this year’s NFL combine.

Finally, the Chicago Bears got some wide receiver help for quarterback Justin Fields. Too bad they did so by investing in an older prospect, one whose primary function coming into the league will likely be as a returner. Sure, his speed is great. But the team missed its opportunity to find a legit target earlier in the process.

Brent Sobleski, Bleacher Report

Sporting News: C-

USA Today Sports

The Bears did recognize their need for more speedy playmaking at wideout to complement Darnell Mooney and give Justin Fields a field-stretcher, but this is a bit of a head-scratcher for a mid Day 3 prospect. Jones burst well after the catch but needs work to be trusted in an expanded capacity.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

Yahoo! Sports: C-

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Jones turns 25 in a few weeks, which turned off some teams. But he’s a compact, physical receiver who was used as a jack of all trades for the Vols. His shocking 40 time (4.31) shot him up draft boards, but Jones remains unrefined and might need some touches schemed up, a la another former Tennessee star in Cordarrelle Patterson.

Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports

Bears Wire: C-

USA Today Sports

Jones projects as a WR3 for the Bears behind Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle. He’s a developmental prospect at receiver, but he’s certainly got an intriguing skillset to work with. Jones also figures to contribute on special teams in the return game, where his speed and explosiveness can help with field position.

There’s certainly potential with Jones, who’s the best yards-after-the-catch receiver in this draft class. But it might’ve been a reach on Chicago’s part to select him with the seventh pick in the third round.

Alyssa Barbieri, Bears Wire

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