When the Bears didn’t make a splash in the receiver trade or free agent markets, it put an extra bit of emphasis on addressing the position on NFL Draft weekend. But after watching the Bears use their first two picks on defensive backs, there was concern that the team would continue to kick the can down the road when it came to building out that position group. However, not too long after using two second-rounders on DBs, the Bears plucked Velus Jones Jr. in Round 3 with pick No. 71.
Even still … that came with some grumbling from some corners of football fandom.
That’s because Jones, who turned 25 in May, is on the older side of being a prospect. And because he is “old” by first-year player standards, there is a segment of fans, draft nerds, and others who see it as a red flag. Fair enough. But for Jones, age is of no concern to him. The rookie wideout told Adam Rank’s The Sick Podcast that the age thing doesn’t matter. And I’m totally here for this energy.
“Me being 25 is not going to stop me from running past people to score touchdowns and stuff like that,” Jones said. “I’m going to be fast for a long time, strong for a long time, and making plays for a long time. So it’s really irrelevant.”
All of a sudden, I’m ready to make jokes about Vikings, Lions, and Packers defenders getting dusted by a rookie receiver with an AARP card.
But more important than that is Jones sounding like someone who knows he has something to prove and is ready to play himself into praise from doubters with his play on the field. Again, so much of the criticism in the Jones pick is rooted in him being 25 years old. And that he Jones didn’t truly break out as a receiver prospect until his final year in college figures to bug some folks until he actually does something on the field. Until then, Jones is going to talk that talk:
“Honestly, I have the body of like a 21- or 22-year-old. Some guys have a lot of injuries in college and that you know are going to take punishment in the NFL, but I’m healthy as … like a baby horse. I’m healthy as all get out. That (age) is irrelevant, you know people gonna talk about it. I only can control what I can control, so they can just stay tuned on that.”
I’m healthy like a baby horse is a turn of phrase I’ve never heard before. But I think I’ll use it after my next check-up if everything comes back in good standing. At minimum, I think Jones might’ve stumbled across a fun new nickname. Let’s face it. They don’t make nicknames like they used to back in the day. We need fewer A, B, C, D, Etc.-Rod nicknames … and more Baby Horse ones. Yep, that’s the ticket!
One reason Jones comes off as confident about his future despite limitations that could come with being an elder statesman of his rookie class is because he arrives to town with this sizzle reel:
Seriously … this guy can scoot. Jones is a play-maker. And has the potential to make some splash plays happen for a Bears offense that has been lacking them for years. This isn’t to say Jones is coming to town and putting up WR2 numbers next to Darnell Mooney. Jones would be a unicorn if he broke onto the scene like gangbusters in that manner. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful piece of the Bears’ offensive puzzle.
There are question-marks, to be sure. And I can’t simply brush away the risk that comes with the biggest offseason addition to the Bears’ receivers room being a 25-year-old rookie whose collegiate breakout didn’t come until he was 24. But if he can carve a niche for himself, turn some bubble screens into chunk plays, scamper past some defenses, find pay dirt, and help this offense put points on the board then I’m here for it. And if he can do that, then I think we’ll forget about his age.
For more from Jones on Adam Rank’s podcast, you can watch the video below: