Though Julio Jones didn't take home any post season awards at the conclusion of his rookie season in 2011, he's gotten plenty of attention.
Rookie years at quarterback by Cam Newton and Andy Dalton and the pass-rushing terrors of Von Miller and Aldon Smith cast a shadow on what Jones accomplished during his inaugural season. Jones finished the season 41 yards shy of 1,000 and added eight touchdowns. His 17.8 yards-per-catch average was second among all rookies with 10 catches or more this season.
Even more impressive is that the rookie that finished ahead of Jones, Denarius Moore, had 21 fewer catches to earn his 18.7 yards-per-catch average. When you factor in that Jones missed three games this season and was slowed in others by injuries you start to understand the impact Jones had and why his future is so bright.
There are a few folks over at ESPN that think Jones' star is beginning to shine brighter as well. The rookie receiver landed on two lists at the end of the season, Mel Kiper's Top 20 rookies of 2011 and Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.'s Top 10 rookies. Jones landed at No. 9 on both lists.
Kiper, who ranked Jones as the eight-best player available last year before the draft, says the rookie delivered as the home-run threat he envisioned him to be and anticipates a strong future opposite Julio Jones with the two combining to give opposing defenses nightmares.
What Williamson liked most from Jones in 2011 was the athletic ability he played with and admits a rookie learning curve and his injuries hampered the receiver some, but he doesn't expect anything but more seasons like Jones showed as a rookie.