After opting to go defense with the first two picks, Bears general manager Ryan Poles went out an added a speedy receiver in Tennessee’s Velus Jones Jr. with the 71st overall selection in the 2022 NFL draft.
Wide receiver was arguably the team’s biggest need heading into the draft, which wasn’t surprising considering Chicago’s receiving corp was led by Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle. While the top wideout prospects were off the board in the second round — when the Bears went with safety Jaquan Brisker — they took a chance on Jones early in the third round.
Last season with Tennessee, Jones had 62 catches for 807 yards and seven touchdowns. Jones had 286 yards after contact, which ranked third among SEC wide receivers, according to Pro Football Focus.
Jones, who’s on the older side as a 25-year old rookie, isn’t the most polished receiver. But he’s a speedster, as evidenced by his 4.31 40-yard time. He’s one of the best run-and-catch wideouts in this draft class, and it’ll be interesting to see how Luke Getsy utilizes him on offense, especially as a deep threat. He’s also an impact player on special teams, where he figures to fill the hole left by Jakeem Grant in the kick return game.
Jones projects as a WR3 for the Bears behind Mooney and Pringle. He’s a developmental prospect at receiver, but he’s certainly got an intriguing skillset to work with. Jones also figures to contribute on special teams in the return game, where his speed and explosiveness can help with field position.
There’s certainly potential with Jones, who’s the best yards-after-the-catch receiver in this draft class. But it might’ve been a reach on Chicago’s part to select him with the seventh pick in the third round.