ESPN analysts make case for why Julio Jones is NFL's top receiver

When ESPN senior writer Jeremy Fowler asked over 50 NFL executives, coaches and players to rank their top-10 wide receivers, he expected a close race between Julio Jones and Michael Thomas.

That proved not to be true.

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Fowler's survey showed Jones is widely viewed as the No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL and it wasn't close.

"I went into this process thinking Michael Thomas would push Julio Jones for that No. 1 spot, it didn't happen," Fowler said. "Jones got more than half of the first-place votes. One NFL coordinator told me, 'He is an avatar … there is no one like him.' He can beat you in all three phases of the football field. The only knock on him is he's 31 years old. Occasionally they rest him, he takes a few plays off. Most people thought he was just more of a threat than Michael Thomas down the field."

Since entering the league in 2011, Jones has caught 797 passes for 12,125 yards and 57 touchdowns. The seven-time Pro Bowler continues to shatter the record book, including breaking Jerry Rice's record for most receiving yards through a player's first nine seasons.

Jones' combination of size and speed is what makes him unique and hard to defend.

There are no limitations for what Jones can do and that's why he's looked at as the top player at his position.

"I think Julio is special because he's somewhat of a combination of Michael Thomas with the deep threat ability of somebody like Tyreek Hill," said ESPN analyst Dominque Foxworth. "He's not quite as fast as Tyreek Hill but we don't have to go back to far to think of a game when Julio Jones had 300 receiving yards. That game alone puts him at the top of my list. He's a special player with a big body that can get away from people and break tackles. I think Michael Thomas is special, but I don't think he compares to Julio Jones when it comes to his impact in a game.

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