Even though Velus Jones Jr. was the Bears’ third pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, his potential impact in the offense has been the No. 1 talking point for fans. It’s no secret that the team needed more playmakers to help Justin Fields, and Jones is an intriguing prospect with great upside. But there are also several questions surrounding him. To start, Jones didn’t have the same track record of production as many other wide receivers who were available when the Bears made their pick. Further, Jones is set to turn 25 next week, which means he’ll be 29 when it’s time for him to sign his second contract. Many have viewed that as a negative, but in the Bears eyes, they see a more mature rookie, not an older rookie.
“He’s all business, man,” said Luke Getsy. “He came in in a suit. He was ready to go. He takes great notes. Bought his own white board, you know. He came in ready. He was focused, he’s a business approach. So, I’m excited, he’s somebody that’s going to be all-in, focused on trying to figure everything out. It’s a lot for all of those guys right now but I loved the way he came in, his approach.”
That maturity is something Jones spoke to on the first day of rookie minicamp. In fact, he contended that his age is a benefit, not a detractor.
“Now that I’m older, I realize what’s at stake, and this is the best job in the world,” Jones said. “I don’t care much about partying. I’m just coming in and I’m ready to establish a role on this team to help us win games. Definitely my mind is screwed on right.”
But it’s not just mental maturity that the Bears have noticed. They see physical maturity that could make the transition from college to the NFL easier.
“He can handle this league, you can see that already,” Getsy said. “Then, the speed just jumped at you on the tape. When that guy gets the ball in his hands, he looks like 4.3 on the field. Not many guys can do that, and I think that is what stood out about this guy. He has a chance to score every time he touches the ball.”
Another key to Jones’ game is he doesn’t line up strictly at one place on the field. It’s not a quality unique to Jones in the Bears rookie class either. Trestan Ebner has earned recognition as a jack of all trades on offense. Kyler Gordon can play outside corner, or slot. Jaquan Brisker can make an impact playing deep safety, or sliding into the box. Bringing it back to Jones, Getsy says that versatility is what the entire offense will be built around. Not just using Jones as a chess piece, but using everyone as a chess piece.
“Guys that can do a bunch of different things give us an opportunity to do a bunch of different things with each guy,” Getsy said. “So, we don’t want just one guy that can run down the field. We don’t want just one guy that can run a choice route. We want guys that can do a bunch of different things. He definitely has that versatility so that’s really cool. It was fun to see this weekend.”
The Bears haven’t revealed much, or really anything, about what the passing attack will look like next season. There’s been talk of explosive plays, versatility, and creating a scheme to match the strengths of their skill players, but that’s pretty much it. That certainly sounds vague, but Bears scout Sam Summerville assured that the coaches have specifics in mind for Jones in this offense.
“They have a plan for him that’s going to be exciting to watch.”