Entering his 10th NFL season, Julio Jones still commands respect as one of the very best players in the league.
Jones finished with 1,394 receiving yards in 2019 – second-most in the league – despite missing one game, and he has not finished outside of the top three in receiving yards in a single season since 2013. Few players possess the combination of size, speed and body control that Jones does, which is why defenses must know where he is on any given snap.
Ahead of the 2020 season, the NFL is unveiling its latest top 100 players list, which is voted upon by players from around the league. Jones ranked No. 11 in this year's list, although an argument could be made that he is still a Top-10 player.
"Consistently spectacular, Jones drew a top-15 ranking for the sixth straight year -- though he did drop from the top 10 after a four-year run," NFL.com's Grant Gordon writes. "Jones' production is historic and a constant no matter if the Falcons are triumphing or struggling. Turning in 1,394 yards receiving, Jones tied the longest streak in NFL chronicle for seasons with 1,300-plus yards at six. A catch away from 100 for the fourth time in his career, Jones is a model of outstanding play year in and year out. Highlights were hard to come by for Atlanta in 2019, but when they were had it was often via Jones. This was perhaps most evident when he caught the game-winning 5-yard TD with 5 seconds to go for a riveting comeback over the future NFC champions, culminating a win in which Jones had two scores, 13 catches and 134 yards. Consistently spectacular once again."
Gordon mentions the 5-yard touchdown against San Francisco as an example of Jones's highlight-reel ability, but it was his game-winning screen against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 that truly showed just how explosive he can be in the most critical moments. Few players are as capable of taking over a game like Jones, who has more 300-yard games than any receiver in history.
Jones is the third Falcons player to be revealed on this list. Grady Jarrett made his top 100 debut, coming in at No. 91 on the list, and Todd Gurley was voted in at No. 51, marking the fourth time he's been among the 100 best players in the league.
The Falcons are entering a critical season. After missing the playoffs in back-to-back years, the organization had a busy offseason and made moves to put an end to its current drought. Atlanta's offense once again figures to lead the way with Calvin Ridley facing big expectations in Year 3, Gurley looking to bounce back and regain his dominant form and Hayden Hurst operating in a key role for the first time.
Nevertheless, it's Matt Ryan and Jones who continue to be the faces of this franchise, and their play will be as important as ever this fall.
Wide receiver Julio Jones was unanimously selected to the 2010-2019 Atlanta Falcons All-Decade Team.