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Patriots 2011 Draft Report: Julio Jones, Alabama

Julio Jones is considered to be one of the best receivers in the 2011 NFL Draft. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

Height: 6-2
Weight: 220
40: 4.39
2010 stats: 78 receptions, 1,133 yards, 7 touchdowns

Overview:

Hype has surrounded Julio Jones since he was a freshman at Foley High School, in Foley, Ala. Following a junior and senior campaign that saw him haul in 143 passes and score 32 touchdown, Jones generated interest from big-time programs like Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Oklahoma.

Ultimately, Jones decided to play for Nick Saban at Alabama. Before long, Jones was known as one of the best receivers in all of college football, often being compared to Georgia’s A.J. Green — a comparison that still persists today.

In Tuscaloosa, Jones carried his production from high school to college. During his three years with the Crimson Tide, Jones caught 179 balls for 2,653 yards and 15 touchdowns. Partly because of Jones’ production, Alabama won the 2009 National Championship.

But, it was what Jones did against top competition that has solidified him as a first round draft pick. This past season, for example, against LSU Jones recorded 10 receptions and a touchdown against the consensus No. 1 cornerback, Patrick Peterson.

Despite all the success, some view Jones in a negative light. Some people question Jones’ heart and work ethic, while others still don’t think he has liven up to his expectations.

Yet, one thing is known – Jones has produced and projects to do so at the next level.

Patriots Outlook:

In terms of a need, Julio Jones is right up the Patriots ally. The Patriots lack a true No. 1 receiver and a guy who is imposing for the defense. The true need for a wide receiver, however really comes down to how the Patriots feel about two youngsters, Brandon Tate and Taylor Price.

Price, who was the Patriots 2010 third round draft choice, sat out of 15 games in 2010 with an injury. In the one game Price was active, he caught three passes for 41 yards. Tate, too saw little action his rookie season, but was active in all 16 games in 2010. Tate’s season is remembered by his electrifying kick returns touchdowns, but the North Carolina product also played well lined up at receiver.

Tate finished with 24 receptions and three touchdowns, but it was his quarterback — Tom Brady — who on missed Tate on numerous occasions down the field.

Still, with Tate and Price, along with Deion Branch and Wes Welker, do the Patriots need to draft a receiver high in April? Bill Belichick is familiar with Coach Saban, so expect Belichick to be well-schooled on Jones.

If the Patriots are interested in Jones, they may have to trade up to get him. Depending on whether teams prefer Green, Jones could be a top 10 pick.

With many picks to spare, maybe the Patriots will look to trade up to nab this playmaker.

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About Matthew Marcantonio - @M_Marcantonio

Matthew Marcantonio is the Patriots and college football editor at Sports of Boston. Marcantonio has contributed for two newspapers; the Sentinel & Enterprise (Leominster, Mass) and The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La) and held internships with The Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated.

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