However, he's got a great initial burst, has a second gear to his game when turning the corner and can consistently outpace angles in space. Allows his pad level to get upright and runs too high once he gets into the open field. Will give opposing defenders too much area to get under at times when he does see a tackle coming and has taken some big shots throughout his career.
Does a better job lowering his pad level into contact when he sees the defender, displays good flexibility in his lower half and can run with good forward lean into would-be tacklers. Showcases good stop and go ability in the open field and has some natural fluidity and change of direction skills to his game. Has the ability to break down, make a man miss laterally and accelerate.
However, because of his high pad level, will need to gear down in order to collect himself and doesn't always play as sudden laterally as you would expect. Also, can be tripped up easily when trying to go laterally and make a man miss because he gets too overextended with his footwork and doesn't have ideal balance to his game. Plays faster than he is quick.
Is a long strider once he gets the legs going, isn't the type of compact runner you ideally look for, has very good speed, but his running style is more of a sprinter. Doesn't have the frame to be able to hold up in pass protection right away. However, he's a natural receiver out of the backfield. Plucks the football well off his frame, can get down the field in the pass game and adjust well to the football.
Doesn't have the frame that can take the type of consistent 20-plus carries in the NFL. Missed the final game of the 2010 season due to a fracture in his left foot.
Impression: Isn't a guy who will have a ton of success running between the tackles in the NFL. However, he's dynamic in space, catches the ball well out of the backfield and can really accelerate. Looks like an intriguing 3rd down type back with some big-play potential."
Jones signed with Eastern as a cornerback, actually starting four games at the position in 2008 after redshirting his first season. Even early on as a defender, Jones looked like a standout, ranking sixth on the team in tackles (54) and leading the team with two blocked kicks despite missing the first four games of the season due to a broken leg.
Jones was an immediate star at running back for Eastern in 2009, taking his first career handoff 87 yards for a touchdown. His 2,345 all-purpose yards earned him third-team All-American honors from the AP and ranked second in school history.
A year later, despite missing the playoff games, Jones bettered his production, posting 2,421 all-purpose yards, including 1,742 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. With his team winning the national championship and two seasons of stellar production, Jones made the choice few FCS prospects would ever consider -- making the early jump to the NFL.
Teams that chalk up Jones' production to his level of competition could be surprised with how high he's selected. Possessing a combination of elusiveness, acceleration and breakaway speed to rival any skill position player in the FBS, Jones could wind up a top 100 selection. Only his troubling lack of durability and the question of which role will minimize the hits he'll take in the NFL will keep him from be picked even higher.
Inside: Lacks the bulk, power to handle a steady diet of interior running. Shows a quick burst to attack the line when there is a hole and can slip through a crack and into the secondary in the blink of an eye. Rare acceleration and top-end speed. Can avoid defenders in tight quarters, showing excellent lateral agility and balance. Upright runner who exposes the ball.
Outside: Beats linebackers to the corner easily. Has the flexibility to bend, turn and explode upfield, showing the rare acceleration to break through the pack for long scores. Looks to get toward the sideline, minimizing where defenders can attack him. Shows an excellent stop-start move to avoid tackles, cutting back against the grain.
Breaking Tackles: Despite his upright running style, rarely takes bit hits, showing an ability to slide off tackles. Can't be characterized as powerful, but keeps his legs churning and bounces off tacklers who don't wrap him up. Slippery.
Blocking: Rarely asked to pass block in this scheme, as he's typically released into the flat as a receiver. Typically resorts to cut-blocking, at which he's minimally effective due to a lack of technique and power.
Receiving: Generally reliable hands. Makes most catches off of quick screens and dump-off passes, but was occasionally released deep. Appears to struggle tracking the ball over his shoulder, but possesses good body control to contort his body to make the tough grab. Flashes the ability to extend and pluck outside of his frame.
Intangibles: Has struggled with injuries throughout his career. Experienced kick and punt returner. Returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in 2008 and had an 85-yard score called back due to penalty in 2009. Has been described by scouts as immature and naive."
Positive: Ultra-productive small school back with adequate skills for the next level. Shifty ball carrier who displays a lot of quickness in his running and has the ability to make several defenders miss over the course of a single carry. Shows a burst, is very elusive, and uses a stiff arm to get around opponents. Quickly cuts back into open space, losing no momentum, and turns it on in a single step. Will pick and choose his way on the inside, avoiding piles or getting around the corner.
Negative: Does not display great balance in his running. Rather easily brought down by the first defender and rarely picks up any yardage off initial contact. Struggled with injuries as a junior.
Analysis: Jones is a productive skill player and is always a threat whenever the ball is in his hands. He possesses average size for the next level but could be a solid third-down back/rotational player in the NFL if he remains healthy."
Negatives: Has a frail build, legs are thin and he doesn't appear to have much strength in his lower body... Leaves the ball exposed when he's running... Tall and runs upright, looks like he's running the 100 meter dash more so than running with the football, doesn't lower his pad level... Marginal leg drive, keeps his legs moving but doesn't have the power to go anywhere with it... Poor blocker... Tons of injury concerns, always seems to be nicked up... Played against FCS competition at Eastern Washington... Runs east/west too much and wants to break the big play every time he touches the football."
Surprise early declaree for the 2011 NFL Draft, and is a legitimate prospect.
Strengths: Breakaway speed, and will break a big run every few plays. Runs the middle hard despite not being a real big back. Has some unique moves, especially as he approaches the contact zone. Can make himself narrow and squirt through quick-closing holes. Can catch.
Weaknesses: Will not break that many tackles at the next level. Runs a bit upright and may be injury prone. Desperately needs to add some muscle mass to his frame in order to take the pounding. Runs a little like Chris Johnson, and is similar, physically, to what he was coming out...though he lacks that kind of world-class speed. Must be used wisely and judiciously. Will never be much of a blocker.
Projection: 5-6th rounder."
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