Posted by Will Brinson
The Falcons made a bold move on draft day when they jumped 21 spots -- in a massive deal with Cleveland -- to land Julio Jones out of Alabama. At the time, we wrote that he "better be a home run" to justify the move, and we still stand by that.
Fortunately, the early results are in and Jones looks like a pretty solid draft pick for Atlanta. Granted, Friday night's loss against Miami was only one game of the preseason, but he drew some nice compliments from usually reserved Falcons coach Mike Smith.
"I think Julio got indoctrinated into what the NFL is about and in terms of the plays he made, I think they were outstanding," Smith said, per Jay Adams of the team's official website. "I think all three touches were for first downs. He showed some skills that we saw when he was playing at the University of Alabama, and we'll watch the tape I think we'll find some things that we've got to correct.
"We all made mistakes, starting with me in terms of the game management and all of that. I really thought that Julio did some good things."
He did indeed. Jones looked extremely explosive in the early going, catching two balls for 43 yards and taking a reverse around the right side for 12 yards.
Jones was targeted four times in total during the first three series that spanned about 12 minutes of the first quarter -- the Falcons first two offensive plays of the preseason targeted Jones but Matt Ryan missed the first throw and Vontae Davis was draped on Jones during the second one.
Yeah, it's safe to say that they wanted to not just establish Jones but their "new" identity as an explosive offensive team early on. It didn't work -- at first.
During the next two series, the Falcons marched down the field and punched it in the end zone, once with a Michael Turner score and then again when Harry Douglas made a fantastic catch on an even better throw from Ryan.
Those two possessions featured Jones being integrated much more seamlessly, particularly when Jones was able to take short passes from Ryan for big gains.
It's the explosive playmaking that Atlanta wanted to add this season and if Jones first few series are any indication of his ability, it certainly will be outstanding.
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