INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Former Alabama teammates Mark Ingram (L) and Julio Jones look on during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
If you were going to buy Julio Jones' draft stock, too late. You can't afford it. His workout at the Combine yesterday sent it through the roof.
Jones' speed and power were painfully evident. Jones' forty time was 4.39. A sub-4.4 forty time is usually more than enough to get you noticed combined with hours of Oscar-worthy game tape, all the hype around Jones is warranted. Throw that on top of his remarks in to the press on Saturday, the ones were he compared himself to Ray Lewis and explained that he loves to hit defenders as a much as anything he does as a WR and I don't think there's any doubt that Jones is a legitimate top 10 pick.
That also means he's not going to be available for the St. Louis Rams with the 14th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. That's unfortunate. The Rams because the Rams desperately need a receiver. In fact, one very knowledgeable source I talked to on Saturday described the current group of Rams receivers "shit" and said that there's no way the team can count on the incumbents because of the injury history.
Throw out Jones at pick #14 and the Rams have a few different options. They can 1) trade up. It's an iffy proposition for the Rams since they only have one pick in each round and desperately still in need of depth. There's always option 2) the free agent route, but in case you haven't heard, that's kind of a crap shoot this year too. And what sure things are there on the market now anyway?
Most likely it's option 3) trading down. If Devaney drops his pick to late in the first round there are several options available down there. Maryland's Torrey Smith is one of them, but there are questions about his overall game. Pitt's Jon Baldwin is still in the conversation, though he'll require a very thorough vetting to assuage questions about his character. Options beyond the first round are in play too. Leonard Hankerson's hands did not look great yesterday. Ricardo Lockette is an intriguing small school player to keep an eye on...how quickly can he develop though? Indiana's Tanon Doss is an option too, some of the draft pundits I talked to this weekend liked Doss, a good player who just doesn't have Julio Jones' seemingly endless ceiling.
The draft picture takes new turns and twists at the Combine, every year. After a relatively uneventful guessing game about the Rams' pick last year, things look vastly different this year.