Based on the early returns from training camp, the Chicago Bears may have got the steal of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Former Tennessee Vols wide receiver Velus Jones Jr, the No. 71 overall pick (third round) by the Bears, is off to an outstanding start in training camp.

The speedy wide receiver turned some heads this week as he earned praise for his better-than-expected route running and a play he made over rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon

The Bears are hoping that second-year quarterback Justin Fields can take a major step forward in 2022. The only problem is that Chicago didn’t get Fields much help this offseason via free agency.

Fortunately for Fields, it appears that Jones is ready to be a key contributor as a rookie.

Tennessee Vols
Bears WR Velus Jones Jr

Jones was an afterthought entering his final season at Tennessee. He caught 22 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns in 2020 before breaking out in 2021 with 62 receptions for 807 yards and seven touchdowns.

The reason for the dramatic improvement?

Tennessee’s offense changed under new head coach Josh Heupel, allowing Jones more freedom to get into the open field and use his speed to make plays. That speed is what led the Bears to draft Jones in the third round.

And based on what we’re hearing so far, it sounds like the Bears could’ve selected Jones in the first round (if they would’ve had a first-round pick) and it still would’ve been a great selection.

The former Vols standout should be a vital part of Chicago’s massive rebuild under new general manager Ryan Poles.

Featured image via Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports