While he was not thought of as a marquee free agent entering the negotiation window this NFL free agency season, Jaguars receiver Marvin Jones may soon be thought of as the team’s most impactful signing bringing a new form of leadership to the Jaguars offense.
Over the past several years, the Jaguars’ offense has been among one of the youngest in the NFL. In 2019, several rookies and second-year players received first-team snaps, including at quarterback in then-rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II. The same could be said for the team’s offense in 2020.
Now, after inking the former Detroit Lions receiver, the Jaguars can expect some stability, particularly as the rest of the roster ages, and within the receiver room. In meeting the team’s young receivers shortly after signing with the franchise last week, Jones remarked that the players were shocked he was 31 years old.
Jones says he told them he’d “show” them the way in his time in Jacksonville, already having played that role in the past for the Detroit Lions for a short time.
“It feels good obviously because I’m still here and I’m still playing at the top of my game,” Jones said last week during his first local Jacksonville media availability with the team when asked about playing the role as a veteran leader within the group.
“I’m here, I’m here to be that mentor and for them to follow me. I love that and I love that type of pressure. So yeah, it feels good.”
Entering the league as a fifth-round pick in 2012 with the Cincinnati Bengals, Jones became a leader quickly during his young career. Saddled with a young quarterback at the time in Andy Dalton and a second-year receiver at the time in A.J. Green, Jones became part of the young core with the Bengals.
“I think everywhere I’ve been, every stop that I’ve made, I’ve been a leader, and that’s not necessarily saying I’m going to be the one that’s talking all the time and stuff like that.
“I like to show it and I think as you can look at my career, that’s what you see. You see that I am a leader on and off the field and I’m just excited for the opportunity to keep my level of play sky high and to take everybody with me.”
Over the course of his career, Jones has accounted for 423 receptions for 6,025 yards and 51 touchdowns. He has multiple years (2020, 2019, 2017, and 2013) with nine or more touchdowns in a single season.
Last year, he accounted for 76 receptions for 978 yards and nine touchdowns. While he has only one 1,000 yard season (2017), Jones has been productive nearly every year he’s been in the league.
“In terms of my role and how I fit, I think you could look on the highlights and see where I fit in this, so I’m just overall excited.”
So, we did just that.
The Jaguars will require a veteran receiver that a young signal-caller, likely former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, can rely on. Over the course of eight seasons, Jones has had just 28 drops in his career. That’s an average of 3.5 drops per season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jones has played 3,951 snaps in which he went out on a receiving route, which means he has a drop-per-route-ran percentage of just .7%. He has a drop rate of just 4% on 698 career targets and has not had more than four drops in a season since 2016.
Simply put, he’s reliable, and some of that can be seen in how he catches the football. In 2017 against the Minnesota Vikings, Jones showcased his talent in a monstrous way, securing the football in between two defenders on his way to the end zone.
Some insane hands by Marvin Jones in 2017: pic.twitter.com/ohh0WKU87Y— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) March 26, 2021
According to PFF, Jones has the fourth-highest contested catch rate among receivers since 2018 at 59%.
Reliability isn’t always simply in the “hands” department, either. It comes by the way of how a receiver runs his routes, too. Jones has a savvy player who routinely figures out his way in between defenders in a zone, making an easy target for his quarterback.
Splitting the defense in zone with a safety over the top isn’t always easy, however, even in 2020, Jones displayed plenty of his NFL Combine 4.46 40-yard-dash speed against the Vikings.
In 2020, Jones’ average depth of target was 13.1 yards, ranking 13th in the NFL among receivers with at least 53 targets according to PFF, just behind Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill at 13.4 yards.
Jones splitting the defense deep for a touchdown pic.twitter.com/Q2BIE9d6on— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) March 26, 2021
Lining out wide on 80.9% of his snaps, according to PFF, Jones will most likely be utilized in the same way with the Jaguars. His aggressiveness in his route running will benefit him moving forward, especially in man-to-man coverage on an island.
Marvin Jones beats man-to-man defense deep against Titans: pic.twitter.com/CO0fvvpRO7— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) March 26, 2021
This touchdown, in particular, is out of this world:
Slowed it down a little. Messing with some editing software: pic.twitter.com/haxxVMu1VZ— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) March 26, 2021
With a young quarterback, having a reliable player in the red zone will be a key to the team’s success. A player who can score on the short area of the field is not common, especially at the receiver position. While the Jaguars do have DJ Chark Jr., the team will want another player it can rely on such as Jones.
According to playerprofiler.com, Jones received 14 red-zone targets in 2020 with nine receptions, ranking 18th. In 2019, he caught 11 red-zone passes, ranking 9th.
While he wasn’t the team’s most high-profile signing (that tag will go to cornerback Shaquill Griffin), Jones is probably one of its most significant. A leader, a reliable player and an all-around high-character person who appears fully bought into what is happening in Jacksonville.
“I’ve come here to be great, and you expect that from everybody else on the team. It’s a new kind of regime obviously, it’s a new energy, and you can come here, and you can feel that from all the coaches, so I’m just excited to be here.”