Velus Jones Jr.’s career with the Chicago Bears is beginning a lot like his college years did. His rare athletic ability profiles him as an elite offensive weapon, and sometimes, guys like that need time to settle into the position they fit best.
At the Bears’ OTAs this week, Jones did a little bit of everything. He was equal parts outside and inside receiver.
“We’ve thrown him into the fire pretty quick, put him at two positions immediately,” Bears wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Tyke Tolbert said. “Get him to learn it now. Because we want him to learn the whole concept but, specifically, a couple of positions to get him going. The more he can do, the more, obviously, he’ll have a chance to play.”
Velus Jones Jr.’s rare traits set him apart from other Bears WRs
Jones’ chance to play will be determined by more than just his versatility. The Bears’ depth chart is light at wide receiver; only Darnell Mooney offers as much playmaking upside as Jones at this point. Veteran Byron Pringle flashed during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs, but it’s unknown whether he can be a consistent contributor with starter’s reps.
Jones, meanwhile, ran a 4.31 40-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Combine and represents Chicago’s best chance at flipping the field in one play.
“Any situation is about opportunity,” Tolbert said. “There are a lot of good players that are out there who don’t get as many opportunities as some others. And when you get the opportunity to do it, especially with the skill set he has and the talent he has, it’ll show. So I think it’s about the opportunities he has to display his skill set.”
Jones will serve as more than just a dynamic receiver for the Bears in 2022. He’ll provide special teams with the most explosive speedster since (deep breath) Devin Hester. And while it’s ludicrous to expect any player to ever (ever!) make the kind of historic impact Hester did, Jones should provide his fair share of get-out-of-your-seat moments.
Like the rest of the Bears’ receivers, it comes down to Jones taking advantage of the reps he gets. If he makes an impression early in training camp and the preseason, his role will be significant in 2022, silencing critics who questioned Chicago’s decision to select him in the third round of April’s draft.
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today. His NFL Draft and Bears coverage has also been featured on The Draft Network.