After putting together one of the best seasons a wide receiver has composed in the history of football, Julio Jones' fellow players have ranked him as the eighth-best player in the NFL, the league announced Wednesday night. The Falcons star moved up five places after earning the No. 13 spot in 2015.
Jones finished last season with 136 catches and 1,871 receiver yards, both good for second all-time, along with eight touchdowns. According to ESPN, his career reception total, 414, is now the most-ever by a WR in his first 65 NFL contests — 24 more than anyone else.
Stats like these would overinflate many egos, but Jones, never one to care about individual numbers, remained grounded as he passed legend after legend in the NFL record book. His humble yet confident nature probably didn't factor into his top 10 ranking, but it's nonethless an important part of who he is. And it's a big reason why he's enjoyed so much success.
What truly sets Jones apart, though, is his ability to put the entire offense on his back. Sometimes he does so by racking up catch after catch, methodically and ruthlessly wearing down opposing defenses. Other times, he takes over with a single, dazzling reception, the kind of highlight-reel grab you never tire of watching over and over on your phone. The kind of play that is so remarkable, your brain knows it must absorb everything about the moment as it unfolds — the sight, the sounds, the emotions.
Few athletes have the blend of natural skill, work ethic and mental strength to accomplish this. Atlanta is lucky to have one, and the city won't soon forget that.