According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Indianapolis Colts are meeting with Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. on Wednesday ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft:
#Tennessee WR and return specialist Velus Jones Jr is visiting the #Panthers today and the #Colts tomorrow, source said.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 12, 2022
The 6’0”, 200 pound super senior wideout (with 30 7/8” arms) caught 62 receptions for 807 receiving yards (13.0 ypr. avg.) and 7 touchdown receptions during 13 starts in 2021. On kickoff returns, he also averaged 27.3 yards per kick return on 23 returns this past season—including a kickoff return for a touchdown.
As a result, he earned First-Team All-SEC and SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Year honors.
Jones should offer his NFL destination a lot of special teams value with his return ability and could be used as a dynamic ‘gadget’ wideout of sorts, as he can be a playmaker with the football in his hands if deployed properly—given his yards after catch ability (i.e., think wide receiver screens and jet sweeps). He also can stretch the field vertically on fly routes.
He ran a 4.31 forty time at the NFL Combine, so he definitely has tremendous speed and is a threat to take the football to the house at any moment with the football in his hands. He also has a RAS [Relative Athletic Score] of 9.05 out of a maximum of 10.0, again showcasing his overall athleticism.
Jones is a little older for a prospect though, as he’s already 25 years old, and his route tree and route running are limited as a wide receiver respectively. Offensively, he can be used situationally and in certain sub-packages.
While he’s not quite the same athlete (nor has the same size), there are some flashes of Cordarelle Patterson, a fellow former Tennessee alumni, to his game—and with how NFL teams can utilize him at the next level—as both a return man, and gadget wideout (although unlike Patterson, he probably doesn’t have NFL running back in his near future).
Here’s what else they’re saying on Jones:
NFL scouts have been in draft meetings past couple weeks and hearing @Vol_Football WR Velus Jones Jr. is getting pushed up many boards.— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 20, 2022
1) @VelusJr was second-fastest offensive prospect at Senior Bowl—21.75 mph @ZebraTechnology
2) routes like this pic.twitter.com/JE4BtS6Pkx
Tennessee WR/KR Velus Jones, Jr will visit with the Panthers, via @RapSheet— John Ellis (@1PantherPlace) April 12, 2022
Ranked 3rd in the SEC with 1,722 all-purpose yards in 2021. Clocked a 4.31 40 at the combine. pic.twitter.com/trmcQUsRBX
Day 3 WRs Favorites - #Packers— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) April 8, 2022
Speed/Weapon - Velus Jones, Kalil Pimpleton, Jalen Nailor, Tyquan Thornton, Charleston Rambo
Size/Speed/Block- Erik Ezukanma, Dareke Young, Isaiah Weston, Jaivon Heiligh, Kevin Austin
Tough F'n Slots - Kyle Phillips, John Metchie, Bo Melton
Little late to the party on Tennessee WR Velus Jones but he definitely plays to that 4.31-timed speed. Another speed/slot receiver who wins on inside vertical routes and underneath YAC plays. Also one of the best kick and punt returners in the country. Mid-round proejction. pic.twitter.com/dKoVo8AmOV— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 7, 2022
The Colts could use more speed offensively in their receiving corps and adding another weapon who can blow the top off of opposing secondaries is a bonus, in addition to Jones serving as an underneath yards after catch threat. Arguably his biggest strength is his special teams return ability, which should keep him on an NFL roster for a long time.
Jones seems like a productive, blazing fast wideout, who may be a little lower on the Colts depth chart, but would still add a lot of value with his individual roster spot given his offensive and special teams versatility—if utilized properly.