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Jerry Rice: Julio Jones will be 2012 breakout receiver

Jerry Rice is often asked about today's young receivers. According to the Hall of Fame wideout, the next big thing is playing down in Atlanta.

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Rice has a developing man-crush on Julio Jones, and nominated the Atlanta Falcons weapon as his breakout pass-catcher for 2012.

"I love this kid," Rice said on ESPN's SportsCenter, per "He's awesome. He's big, he's fast. ... I think he's gonna have a breakout season this coming year."

Rice hasn't exactly stunned anyone with this prediction.

There's never been a better time to enter the league as a wideout. Passing offenses are expanding and the Falcons have spoken this offseason about pulling away from Michael Turner and the run game in favor of an in-your-face air attack under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

The Falcons paid dearly for Jones in the 2011 draft, but general manager Thomas Dimitroff has said repeatedly that Jones was worth the stockpile of picks they shipped to the Cleveland Browns. He showed versatility as a rookie and will be leaned on heavily in his second season. This hasn't been the league's most exciting team to watch in recent years -- which is sort of mysterious, because they win -- but Jones can help change that.

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