Even diehard Patriots fans would likely admit that Julio Jones is currently the most dominant receiver in the NFL, but is he as valuable to the Falcons as Julian Edelman is to the Patriots?
Greg Jennings and Shannon Sharpe both strongly believe that Jones will be the most important player in the Super Bowl on Sunday, but Skip Bayless says that the Patriots have no chance of winning unless Edelman has a strong performance.
Greg Jennings: Jones and Edelman are vital to their teams in very different ways
"Well, number one, you’re looking at two different styles of receivers. In lots of ways: height, performance.
But what they bring to each team is almost as equal as you can get, quite honestly. For someone who doesn’t understand the position and the dynamic that goes into playing in the slot and what Tom [Brady] needs in that slot. This would not even be a question."
Greg Jennings: Julio Jones is definitely more valuable
"To answer the question, though, Julio Jones is definitely more valuable to his team. Why? Because he impacts the game in more ways than just catching the football, catching touchdowns, receiving yards…
He’s a game-changer for off the field. When you’re preparing for a game, you’re not really looking at ‘OK, if we can take Edelman away..’ No. 1, you’re not going to take Edelman away. He’s third in the league in targets, 159 targets. Not even talking about receptions.
Julio Jones is like 30 targets less, but he opens it up for so many other guys. Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, [Aldrick] Robinson. All these guys that are weapons because of what Julio Jones presents."
Jason GetzUSA TODAY Sports
Greg Jennings: Jones can be the MVP without making catches
"Now, this is not a shot at Julian Edelman, because we know he’s a fantastic player. He means a lot to the success of the New England Patriots. But when you talk about an impact player, who doesn’t have to impact the game by catching a ball… Super Bowl 51 can be won by the Atlanta Falcons, and Julio Jones can have two catches [yet] have more impact in that game than any other player.
Why? Because of the demand he presents to a defense. The attention that he attracts. So you’ve got to go with a guy like Julio Jones… plus he’s just a freak of nature. The kid can flat out get it done."
Isaiah J. DowningIsaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon Sharpe: Jones makes every other WR on his team more dangerous
"This is not even close for me. The only things these two guys have in common: they play the same position, and they have the same number. Other than that, they have nothing else in common.
Because Julio Jones, as you mentioned, we’ve seen him catch one pass and they still score 40. There’s a reason why Matt Ryan set the NFL record for throwing touchdowns to 13 different receivers. That’s because of Julio Jones.
Not only are you trying to double him, sometimes you triple him. And now you’re getting your third and fourth corners on guys like a Mohamed Sanu, like a Taylor Gabriel."
Dale ZanineDale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon Sharpe: Jones is a constant home-run threat
"Julio Jones, if you have a great day [as a defender], he’s going to get you for 100. You have a bad day? It’s two to three bills. And we saw that Sunday, almost two weeks ago, against the Green Bay Packers. This young man is special.
Now, Julian is a different type of guy. He’s a guy. You make a mistake with [Jones], it’s an 80-yard touchdown. You make a mistake with Julian Edelman, it’s a first down, probably a 25 yard gain. That’s the difference.
Julian Edelman, he’s going to move the sticks. He’s going to keep the Patriots on the field and keep getting cracks at you, and you know Tom Brady. If he gets enough cracks at you, he’s going to make the dam burst."
Kirby LeeKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Skip: The Patriots would have zero weapons without Edelman
"I don’t think this is even close the other way from what [Shannon says]. This is Julian Edelman, by far.
Does Tom Brady have Rob Gronkowski anymore? No, he does not.
Who’s the second-best receiver? Chris Hogan? Seriously? Is Martellus [Bennett] still on the roster? I’m not sure. He’ll catch one ball for four yards. Can you trust Martellus in a game of this stature? No, you cannot.
Julian Edelman is the go-to guy for Tom Brady. There’s no way they win this game unless Julian has a good-to-great game by Julian’s standards."
Winslow TownsonWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Skip: Edelman's not a better player, but he is more valuable
Is [Edelman] even spoken in the same breath if we’re talking about a vacuum between Julian and Julio. No! It’s laughable.
…. Over the last three years, Julian Edelman has led the NFL in targets, in receptions, and in yards. The whole NFL, nobody’s even close to him. He’s the go-to-guy for Tom Brady.
Winslow TownsonWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Skip: The stats say Edelman is indispensable to the Patriots' offense
"Let’s look at just 2016, this past regular season.30 more targets than Julio, 15 more catches than Julio.
That’s not shocking, but how about this? Catches for first down on third down, this is it, this is the money down, right? This is ‘move the chains down.’ Julian Edelman had 24 this past season to Julio’s nine. And you’re telling me that guy’s more valuable than this guy? The numbers scream ‘Julian Edelman.’
You talk about what a home-run threat Julio is? How about yards-after-catch, this past regular season, Julian Edelman [has] 505 to Julio’s 423. So Julian is more dangerous after he catches the ball than even Julio is."