By putting together a historically great season in 2015, Julio Jones has cemented himself as an elite wideout. And, according to Pro Football Focus, the Falcons star has become one of the NFL's most dominant players on offense.
PFF, one of the Web's most popular hubs for football stats and analysis, tracks and ranks every player and snap throughout the NFL season. On Tuesday, the site revealed its 10 best NFC offensive players, and Jones finished second, trailing only Green Bay Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
"If you were building a wide receiver in a lab, Jones would be the guy you would make," Gordon McGuinness said. "Physical at the catch point and agile enough to make defenders miss in space and run past them, his physical skill-set helped him have one of the most complete route trees in the NFL last year, with at least 10 receptions on seven different types of routes. His most successful route was the crossing route, though, picking up 375 yards and four touchdowns on 24 receptions."
A big reason why Jones has become so valuable is the high-scoring nature of today's NFL. It's extremely difficult to build a winning team without a true No. 1 pass-catcher, and Jones — who has undoubtedly been worth the four picks it took to draft him in 2011 — has the strength and natural skill to assume that role long into the future.
"We're in the middle of an era in football where the best receivers in the league aren't just players who can make plays downfield, but guys you can feature 15 times a game in order to maximize their impact," McGuinness said. "Like Steelers' wide receiver Antonio Brown in the AFC, Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons is the type of playmaker you want to force the ball to in space, like on wide receiver screens and crossing routes, allowing him make defenders miss. Jones forced 20 missed tackles as a receiver in 2015, more than all but three other players at the position, on his way to a league-leading 1,871 yards."
In addition to earning the No. 2 spot in the NFC, Jones finished No. 9 on PFF's list of top 101 players in the league.