Would WR Julio Jones be a 'luxury' pick?

Would WR Julio Jones be a 'luxury' pick?
April 7, 2011, 2:07 pm
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Thursday, April 7, 2011 10:15 a.m.By Rich Tandler
Redskins Blogger
CSNwashington.comIn a recent article in the Washington Examiner, an NFL general manager was quoted as saying the following about the possibility that the Washington Redskins will draft Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones with the 10th pick in the upcoming NFL draft:"When you have real needs like they do, a receiver is a luxury. But Julio Jones ... would bring a little glitter to the offense. You could make a case for him."So, which is it? Would Jones be a luxury pick? Or can you make a case for some glitter"?There is no question the Redskins need to bolster their corps of wide receivers. The fact that Joey Galloway participated in 32 percent of the offensive snaps in 2010 and Roydell Williams played 25 percent tells you that the position is screaming for an upgrade.The front-line receivers in 2010 were Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong. Moss will be 32 next season, and he may not be back, as he will be an unrestricted free agent when the lockout ends. Armstrong was a nice story as a 27-year-old rookie and he had good production, averaging 19.8 yards on his 44 catches, but he is a good complementary receiver at best.The depth consists of unproven second-year player Terrence Austin and Malcolm Kelly, who is in his make-or-break year after missing all of 2010 with a hamstring injury.Simply put, in a division that features wide receivers such as DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin and Hakeem Nicks, among others, the Redskins receivers arent going to scare anybody.Jones, widely considered to be the second-best wide receiver in the draft behind A. J. Green of Georgia, could instantly become the best receiver on the team if the Redskins pull the trigger and draft him. At 6 feet 3 and 220 pounds, he would be the physical presence that the Redskins have been lacking at the position for years. He was the talk of the NFL Combine after his time of 4.34 in the 40-yard dash.Alabama ran a pro-style offense, so Jones is not one of those receivers who piled up impressive numbers in a spread offense. While his route running needs some work, he should be able to make plays in the offense just by using his size to beat cornerbacks to the ball.And he doesnt use his size just for catching the ball. Jones was frequently seen throwing his body around blocking in the Crimson Tides run-first offense. Wide-receiver blocking is something Mike Shanahan emphasizes in his offense.There are, however, plenty of concerns for Shanahan to ponder before having someone write Jones name on the card and bring it to the stage at Radio City Music Hall in three weeks. For one thing, he is recovering from an injured foot (although it is impressive he ran that fast 40 at the combine with it). That said, there doesnt seem to be a whole lot of concern about Jones recovery from the injury.More importantly, Jones doesnt have the best hands out there. He is notorious for being able to make the spectacular catch and then drop one right in his hands a few plays later.Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect player coming out of college, especially when you get past the top few picks. A look at other receivers taken with the 10th overall pick since 2000 might make you shy away from taking Jones there. Travis Taylor, picked by the Ravens in 2000, was serviceable at best, Mike Williams of USC, the Lions selection in 2005, was a total bust and Michael Crabtree, taken two years ago by the 49ers, is still a work in progress.The Redskins could opt to fill the need for a wide receiver in free agency. The timing of free agency, however, is up to the courts. It may not take place before the draft. On top of that, we dont know what rules will be used to determine who is and isnt an unrestricted free agent. If the NFL goes back to using the 2010 system, such attractive options as Sidney Rice of the Vikings and Michael Sims-Walker of the Jaguars will be restricted free agents.Still, it is likely to be easier to fill the wide receiver position in free agency than it will be to find, say, a veteran free-agent defensive lineman. Teams tend to lock up productive D-linemen either with long-term deals or with the franchise tag. The Dolphins tagged nose tackle Paul Soliai and the 49ers did the same to nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. Both are scheduled to haul in over 12 million in salary this year though neither is considered to be anywhere close to a top-tier player.The bottom line here is the Redskins need to be true to their draft board. If Julio Jones is the top-rated player on their board when their pick comes up, they should take him. Wide receivers arent a luxury, especially with the Redskins and other NFL teams lining up with three or even four of them on a substantial percentage of the snaps.But regardless of the need at the position, they wont reach for Jones if he is not the best player on the board. Given all of the areas that could use an upgrade, they could justify picking just about any position except safety and tight end with the 10th pick. As long as they come away with a good football player, whether its Jones or someone else, it would be foolish to call the pick a luxury.Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. Contact him at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @RealRedskins.