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October 18, 2023

Eagles player review: Julio Jones edition

After the Eagles signed Julio Jones, here's what you need to know about the former All-Pro's play of late.

Eagles NFL
101723JulioJones2 Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Julio Jones

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Eagles signed future Hall of Fame receiver Julio Jones, who is now 34 years old and wasn't on a roster six games into the season. Does he still have anything left in the tank? For this exercise, I cut up all of Jones' targets and carries in 2022. It's about a 10-minute watch.

You may have to click "Watch on YouTube" to view the video:

Did you watch all of that? Yes? No? Well, here are my notes:

Production: In 2022 with the Buccaneers, Jones didn't have much production during the regular season, as he was in and out of the lineup (more on that in a bit) catching 24 passes for 299 yards and 2 TDs in 10 games. However, he was a rare player who came to play in the Bucs' playoff loss to the Cowboys last season, catching 7 passes for 74 yards and a TD. His 7.0 yards per target on the season were respectable (Chris Godwin had 7.1 yards per target), but also by far the lowest of his career. Before 2022, he had never been below 8.9 yards per target in a season.

Size/Speed: At 6'3, 220 with 33 3/4" arms, Jones has a huge catch radius and is an easy target for his quarterbacks. Coming out of Alabama, he was one of the NFL's all-time size/speed freaks, running a 4.34 40 and a 6.66 3-cone at his size. He had great straight-line speed, and insanely nimble quickness for a player his size.

Of course, at age 34 Jones isn't running a 4.34 anymore. But he's also not slow. At the 3:25 mark above, you can see that he can still gallop when he gets into the open field.

Run after catch: For an old guy Jones didn't shy away from contact. He made defenders earn their tackles, and even dished out some punishment. On the play at the 4:19 mark, Jones could easily just step out of bounds, but watch him lower his shoulder and make No. 22 on the Browns pay. Otherwise, there are plenty of other examples of Jones breaking tackles or dragging tacklers for a few extra yards.

Routes: I was surprised by how many shots the Bucs took down the field to Jones, and there were a number of occasions in which he was open but Tom Brady didn't connect with him. He could still win deep last season. He was also effective on quick slants as well as plays in which other Bucs receivers ran vertical routes and cleared out some space underneath for Jones to make easy catches and get some yards after the catch. 

Hands: I didn't see any drops, and PFF didn't have him down for any either. (The play at the 1:40 mark looks like a drop, but the replay showed that the ball was tipped.) Highlight reel catch at the 5:43 mark.

As a runner: The Bucs gave Jones five carries on jet sweeps, and they were surprisingly effective. 5 carries, 45 yards, 4 first downs.

Durability: Jones missed the Bucs' games Weeks 2 and 3 with a partially torn PCL. He returned to play Week 4 against the Chiefs, but then missed Weeks 5, 6, and 7 with that same knee injury. Also, in the video above, as you can see, he looks sluggish getting back up on several occasions when he goes down.

If you're a pessimist, you'll view a 34-year-old Jones as player who is a shell of his former self, and a constant injury risk. If you're an optimist, you can be encouraged that he still made some plays last season despite playing through a performance-hampering injury, and maybe even talk yourself in the thinking that if Jones is now healthy he has more upside than what he showed in 2022.


While no longer one of the league's elite receivers by any stretch, Jones could still play a little in 2022. His skills hadn't yet completely eroded away, and he can help a team like the Eagles that has virtually depth at all on the outside at receiver. He can also play in the slot, and perhaps create mismatches against opposing defenses with smaller slot corners. "2022 Julio Jones" is better than Quez Watkins, who is on injured reserve anyway. This is an upgrade.

However, as with any older player, particularly one who has missed 22 games over the last three seasons, the Eagles should not expect to have Jones available to play in every game the rest of the season, and will have to manage his snaps (even if they lose A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith at some point) as well as his time on the practice field.

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