I haven’t met Julio Jones yet and probably won’t until the lockout is lifted and I get up to Flowery Branch, Ga., for minicamp or training camp. But I’m already starting to like the wide receiver the Falcons traded up to get at No. 6 overall in last week’s draft.
I’m basing that entirely on one answer Jones gave in this radio interview with Atlanta’s 790 The Zone. Jones was asked if he’s the typical “diva’’ wide receiver.
Jones“No, not at all,’’ Jones said. “But I didn’t grow up as no diva, either. I used to play running back, so I guess I have that mentality -- just hard-nosed.”
Hard-nosed is good and “diva" receivers can bring lots of headaches. Just look around the league and at recent history. Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Randy Moss, Keyshawn Johnson -- they all have come with major headaches. In the NFC South, Steve Smith and Roddy White certainly fit the profile, although White generally does it in a relatively harmless and playful way.
In fact, with the exception of New Orleans’ Marques Colston, I don’t think I’ve ever met a wide receiver who was any good that didn’t at least have a pretty strong touch of the “diva personality." I can think of two NFC South receivers in recent years, who showed no similar traits. One was former Carolina receiver Keary Colbert and he played his way right out of town.
The other is Atlanta’s Michael Jenkins. He’s a nice, unselfish role player. But that might be part of the reason the Falcons drafted Jones. Let’s be real honest here: Jenkins still will have a role with the Falcons this year. But if Jones turns out to be anything like what the Falcons envision, Jenkins will be gone in a year or two. The Falcons drafted Jones to take Jenkins’ place.
As much as I rip on “diva" wide receivers, I’ve got to be fair and honest. To be a good wide receiver in the NFL, you need at least a touch of that type of personality. If you’re going to get the ball a lot, you have to want the ball. So we’ll leave a little bit of room for Jones to develop some “diva" tendencies and White can serve as his mentor.