Why Velus Jones age is a problem for Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears - Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Chicago Bears - Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel /

The age discussion around Chicago Bears rookie wide receiver Velus Jones is all wrong. Fans brush off concerns with the fact that at age 25, he is NFL ready and that a rookie contract is all a third-round pick is good for, so if he leaves at age 30, it is no big deal. Or, he could play until 35.

That is all fine and good, but you realize that the players who play until they are 35 and the players who sign the big deals are the players who broke out early. The issue with Jones is not his age right now but a question of why he was not considered an NFL asset at a younger age.

Why Breakout Age Matters

Breakout age has been tested and shown to be predictive in finding wide receivers through the cracks of college football that turn into NFL producers. The theory is simple: In college, men are ages 19-23, which most should know is when men change the most in life.

Nineteen-year-olds are much less physically, mentally, and emotionally mature than 23-year-olds. So, when a 19-year-old shows up on a college campus and has success, this person is likely wired differently from others. In the NFL, where the top 1% of the world battle on Sundays, you have to be the best of the best, and the 19-year-olds who can step up and play with 23-year-olds typically become those people.

On the flip side, the people who have to wait until they are 23, more physically mature than the 19-year-olds to dominate their competition, will usually struggle when all parties are on the same playing field. This seems easy to grasp, right?

Velus Jones’ breakout age is 23, which means that he could not have success against his competition until he was older than them. When he gets to the NFL, he will not be physically better than anyone, and when things even out, he has struggled in the past. That is the red flag.

Below is a list of every WR to enter the NFL with a breakout age of 23 or later.

Ernest Wilford
Jeff Webb
D’Wayne Eskridge
Kevin Curtis
Jordan White
Jeremy Gallon
Jordan Shipley
Marko Mitchell
Timothy Toone
Roydell Williams
Cooper Kupp
Malcolm Mitchell
Donnie Avery
Ryan Broyles
Dallas Baker
Snoop Minnis
Demarco Sampson
Kelley Washington
Clyde Gates
Bethel Johnson
Reggie Brown
John Hightower
John Ursua
Yamon Figurs
Vince Mayle
Danny Coale
Herb Haygood
Kevin Norwood
Jacob Harris
Dylan Cantrell
Van Jefferson
Steve Breaston
Velus Jones Jr.
Devon Wylie
Andre King
Trindon Holliday
Rasheed Marshall

I highlighted the players that you probably know, but the rest are just a long list of busts. There are 37 players, one hit in Cooper Kupp, two decent pieces in Van Jefferson and Steve Breaston, and a bunch of players who needed to be older than their college foes to gain NFL steam.

On the flip side, here are some players with a breakout age of 19. None of these players are first-round picks, either. Amon Ra-St. Brown. Tyler Boyd, Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, Robert Woods, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, Chris Godwin, D.J. Chark, D.K. Metcalf, Tee Higgins, Gave Davis, Miles Austin, Greg Jennings, Pierre Garcon, Antonio Brown, Doug Baldwin, Marvin Jones, Tyler Lockett, and Darnell Mooney.

Yes, this is not the whole list, and the list is much longer than 23-year-old breakouts. Still, the rate of hits from this group is quite obviously much higher, especially since a lot of these were later picks. Players such as Antonio Brown, Pierre Garcon, and Darnell Mooney dominated at age 19 and showed that they belong in the NFL.

Old rookies do not have success

Even compared to Cooper Kupp, he will be a year older than Kupp when he entered the NFL. Below is a list of every player drafted in the first three rounds to be 25 years old as a rookie. This is the list of wide receivers that Velus Jones is joining.

Query Results Table
1Jordan Shipley5201025CIN1545WR
2Ernest Wilford2200425JAX1532WR
3Kevin Norwood1201425SEA921WR
4Nick Toon1201325NOR831WR
5Kevin Curtis0200325STL410WR
6Clyde Gates0201125MIA1500WR
7DeAndre Smelter0201625SFO200WR
8Paul Williams0200825TEN500WR

The most games that a 25-year old rookie started was four, and that was Jordan Shipley, the 84th overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft.

Velus Jones probably be an outlier no matter what because he is expected to get more work than that.

Next. Finding NFL comparisons for Kyler Gordon. dark

So, yes, he could be that Cooper Kupp, the rare one out of 37 guys who cannot dominate at a young age in college but finds success in the NFL. The odds are more likely that he is Nick Toon, or Malcolm Mitchell, though. His age does not matter in the idea that he is old. His age matters in the idea that he was unable to be better than people his age, and only was his best when he was the oldest, most physically mature person on the field.