Marvin Jones Jr.: The Best Receiver of the 2012 NFL Draft


Detroit Lions wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Amon-Ra St. Brown have something significant in common: both were vastly overlooked coming out of college. While St. Brown publicly wears the massive chip on his shoulder, Jones’s 11-year NFL career is his statement. He is the best receiver taken in the 2012 NFL Draft.

In fact, he is the only wide receiver from the 2012 draft that is still in the NFL.

No Signs of Slowing Down

Jones was picked 166th overall in 2012 but outshined all receivers drafted before him. Eleven years in, he’s the only active wide receiver from that draft. Names drafted before him have faded into obscurity, while Jones star has continued to shine. He is back in Detroit and showing no signs of slowing down.

Unlike the outspoken St. Brown, who can readily recite the names of the 16 wide receivers picked before him, Jones’s demeanor is less confrontational.  So much so that I’ve take it upon myself to share the 22 receivers selected before him…

2012 NFL Draft Wide Receivers BEFORE Marvin Jones:

1st Round:

  • Justin Blackmon
  • Michael Floyd
  • Kendall Wright
  • A.J. Jenkins

2nd Round:

  • Brian Quick
  • Stephen Hill
  • Alshon Jeffery
  • Ryan Broyles
  • Reuben Randle

3rd Round:

  • DeVier Posey
  • T.J. Graham
  • Mohamed Sanu
  • T.Y. Hilton (active, but currently a free agent)

4th Round:

  • Chris Givens
  • Travis Benjamin
  • Joe Adams
  • Devon Wylie
  • Jarius Wright
  • Keshawn Martin
  • Nick Toon
  • Greg Childs

5th Round:

  • Danny Coale

Back in Detroit, Ready to Contribute

After a successful two-year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jones is back home with the Lions, ready to contribute to a winning team. His consistency as a Lion still resonates with fans. In 69 games, Jones is third in Lions history in touchdown receptions (36), ninth in receiving yards (4,296), and tenth in receptions (289).

Jones’s return brings hope for the Lions, a team on the brink of contention. His experience in Jacksonville offered a valuable perspective that he believes can be a significant asset to the Lions’ trajectory.

Coach Dan Campbell praises Jones’s value to the team:

He’s a pro’s pro, he’s a vet. He understands, he knows how to work, he knows how to push himself, he knows how to study… he’s a team-guy and when you’re a guy who still loves this game and still puts all the work that you have, when you’ve been in as long as he has and you’re still trying to help your teammates, man, those guys are infectious.

Mentorship and Performance

While Jones is embracing his role as a mentor to younger talents like St. Brown and Jameson Williams, the Lions brought him back because he can still play at a high level.

Jones is enthusiastic about his teammates, particularly St. Brown, describing his “crazy” work ethic and leadership potential. He reflects on his early career days with AJ Green and Mohamed Sanu, emphasizing the importance of mentorship.

He finds motivation in maintaining high performance levels despite his age, saying:

Every year that I get older and I can still do what I can do at a high level and there’s younger guys coming in and they’re feeding off of me… there’s questions like, ‘How’d you do this? How’d you do this? How’d you do this?’ I mean that motivates me as well just because I can tell them my experiences and how to do things but I can also still show them so that’s something I’m proud about.

The Buzz in Detroit

Detroit’s anticipation for a winning season has reached new heights. Jones acknowledges the buzz and is ready for the challenge, adding, “There is definitely a big buzz, a buzz that I haven’t really seen here. But I love it, because that just means it’s a challenge… I think the team is ready for that challenge. Everybody is ready for that challenge. The city is. It’s just up to us because we have that potential”

With his return, Marvin Jones Jr. ready to lead the Lions to success. Overlooked receivers like Jones and St. Brown may be just what Detroit needs. In Jones’s words, bringing a division championship to the city would be “insane.” His dedication, leadership, and skills could indeed lead to something extraordinary.

Significant Stats as a Detroit Lions WR:

  • Enters the 2023 NFL season ranked fourth among active players in touchdown receptions vs. division opponents (26).
  • Ranks third in Lions history in touchdown receptions (36), ninth in receiving yards (4,296), ninth in 100-yard receiving games (11) and 10th in receptions (289).
  • Joins WRs Calvin Johnson and Herman Moore as the only players in Lions history to produce at least three seasons of nine-or-more receiving touchdowns.
  • Produced four-touchdown games for the Bengals and Lions, becoming the second player in NFL history to have a game with four touchdown receptions for multiple teams. He’s also only the fourth player in NFL history to have multiple games with four touchdown receptions, and he is the only Lion to do so.
  • Is one-of-five players in Lions history to produce a 200-yard receiving game (9/25/16).


For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21


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Original Photo Credit: © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK