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Old 05-04-2005, 12:18 PM  
Mr. Laz Mr. Laz is offline
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Jags swung for the fences -- did they whiff?

Jags swung for the fences -- did they whiff?
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Dan Pompei /
Posted: 4 days ago

He has been compared with Drew Bennett, Todd Heap and Steve Young. Ted Hendricks, even. Maybe Matt Jones will develop into a combination of all those players -- and maybe he'll be part Lance Armstrong, part Achilles and part Spider-Man, too. But still, the Jaguars took him way too high for my liking.

A first-round pick is better spent on a player who is certain to be a solid contributor, even if the player will not be a star. The Patriots hit a looper to the opposite field by drafting offensive lineman Logan Mankins, but they can sleep well knowing they got on base. The Jaguars swung for the fence, and they might have hit a home run. But they also might have struck out and torn a groin.

The risk they took was unnecessary. I asked front office men from eight different teams where Jones, the Arkansas quarterback who is converting to receiver, ranked on their boards. Only one of their teams would have selected him before the third round -- that team was prepared to take Jones high in the second round -- and some would have had reservations about taking him in the third.

The fourth round is the ideal place to take a project such as Jones, who is moving to a position he never has played. An exception could have been made because he is an exception athletically. So let's say he had third-round value. The Jaguars took him with the 21st pick in the first round -- sacred territory.

The problem is nobody knows what Jones is capable of. One general manager described him as "a rich man's Woody Dantzler," referring to the former Clemson quarterback who came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent and now is a receiver for the Cowboys. Jones might be a receiver, he might be a tight end, he might be a quarterback, and he might be nothing.

"Colleges can recruit players as athletes," the general manager says. "We can't. We don't have the time to develop them."

In a best-case scenario, Jones probably will take a couple years to learn to play receiver. Even accomplished college receivers often are slow to learn the position in the NFL. When Jones was trying to play receiver during Senior Bowl week practices, he understandably had no idea about route running. Whether he ever will is another matter.

Though Jones is fast, he might lack the short-area quickness almost all great receivers have. The Titans' Bennett, who played both quarterback and receiver in college, doesn't have Jones' speed or athleticism, but he is more fluid and has separation skills and an ability to change directions. The Steelers' Antwaan Randle El, another quarterback turned receiver, has exceptional quickness. Jones' size (6-6, 242) won't help him get in and out of breaks.

If Jones had not run a 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds, leaped 39.5 inches in the vertical jump and broad-jumped 10 feet, 9 inches, he would have been viewed more like Bennett in 2001 -- a curiosity not worth a major investment. Bennett signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent. During the 2004 season, scouts were saying Jones should be a late-round pick.

Workouts are supposed to confirm what a player shows on tape, not replace tape. But Jones went from the bottom of the draft to the top based on what he did in shorts, not pads.

"Everyone compared him to Mike Williams," another general manager says. "Jones is faster and bigger, so the thinking was, 'Why can't he be better?'"

Williams caught 176 passes for 2,570 yards and 30 touchdowns in two seasons of college football. Jones caught four balls for 58 yards in four seasons.

The Jaguars didn't pass on Williams to take Jones, but they did pass two excellent receiver prospects who are much closer to sure things -- Mark Clayton and Roddy White. Receiver wasn't a need for the Jaguars, unless they believe Reggie Williams, their first-round pick last year, is a bust. They also could have taken cornerback Fabian Washington. They could have taken a safety, either Marlin Jackson or Brodney Pool. They could have picked tight end Heath Miller.

The Jaguars chose the chef's surprise when they could have had the specialty of the house. Here's hoping they don't bite into anything hard.


Senior writer Dan Pompei covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at dpompei@sportingnews.com.
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Old 05-04-2005, 12:24 PM   #2
ck_IN ck_IN is offline
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I literaly said WTF when the Jags drafted Jones. My wife, a Jacksonvile native, was beside me and asked 'how bad did they screw up?'

He may develop into something but at 21 it was a horible pick.
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Old 05-04-2005, 12:26 PM   #3
HolmeZz HolmeZz is offline
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I'm actually not going to hold it against them because in the 2nd round they drafted Khalif Barnes, who many thought should've been their 1st round pick.
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Old 05-04-2005, 12:27 PM   #4
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My Jags friend was distraught by the pick.
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Old 05-04-2005, 12:31 PM   #5
KCChiefsMan KCChiefsMan is offline
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there were a few people here that wanted him at #15, he's definately a project...in 3 years we shall see
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Old 05-04-2005, 12:37 PM   #6
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They went with a talented pure receiver the year before - Reggie Williams and it didn't pan out well the first year. Only time will tell. I don't think it's fair of Pompei to criticize the guys quickness and fluidity. There was a ton of college film of him running away from and breaking free lots of defenses including guys like Carlos Rogers. Even if he is slow to pick up on receiving, I think he could be a big red zone threat this year with his height and athleticism.
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Old 05-04-2005, 12:56 PM   #7
shaneo69 shaneo69 is offline
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This is the same reasoning that makes me think the Bengals screwed up by taking Pollack in the mid-first round if they plan to make him a 4-3 OLB. And why it would've been a reach for us to take Thomas Jones and try converting him back to OLB.

Personally, I'd compare Matt Jones to Jerry Porter coming out of college, but probably not quite as high as Porter. JP had the size and great workout numbers, and at least he had played WR most of his senior year, but he still lasted until the 2nd round. Porter took about 4-5 years to develop (just when he was about to become a UFA, coincidentally) and I wouldn't be surprised to see Jones have the same learning curve.
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Old 05-04-2005, 01:22 PM   #8
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BTW, on a side note, what is it with teams over-committing to the WR spot:

1. Lions -- 3 first round picks IN A ROW on WRs.

2. Falsons -- 3 EFFECTIVE first round picks in a row on WR (traded a 1st rounder for Peerless Price).

3. Jags -- 2 first round picks in a row on WR.

I mean -- WR is a sexy position and all, I guess, but it makes no sense to me. A great WR is a bit of a luxury.
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Old 05-04-2005, 01:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siberian khatru
My Jags friend was distraught by the pick.
Did you comfort them by mentioning Denver's selection of Maurice Clarett?
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Old 05-04-2005, 01:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amnorix
BTW, on a side note, what is it with teams over-committing to the WR spot:

1. Lions -- 3 first round picks IN A ROW on WRs.

2. Falsons -- 3 EFFECTIVE first round picks in a row on WR (traded a 1st rounder for Peerless Price).

3. Jags -- 2 first round picks in a row on WR.

I mean -- WR is a sexy position and all, I guess, but it makes no sense to me. A great WR is a bit of a luxury.
You've watched David Patten for too long and for that .... I am sorry.
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Old 05-04-2005, 01:56 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by KCChiefsMan
there were a few people here that wanted him at #15, he's definately a project...in 3 years we shall see
Like who?
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Old 05-04-2005, 02:06 PM   #12
Hercules Rockefell Hercules Rockefell is offline
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Pompeii obviously didn't ask Reid or Shanahan where they would have taken him since both would have taken him the in 1st.
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Old 05-04-2005, 02:07 PM   #13
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Like who?

I heard Bob Dole was crying in his beer when we didn't draft Jones.
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Old 05-04-2005, 02:37 PM   #14
shaneo69 shaneo69 is offline
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Pompeii obviously didn't ask Reid or Shanahan where they would have taken him since both would have taken him the in 1st.

You realize that the rat traded out of the first round, don't you?
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Old 05-04-2005, 02:41 PM   #15
Amnorix Amnorix is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mile High Mania
You've watched David Patten for too long and for that .... I am sorry.
err....hunh?



What does David Patten have to do with anything? I have no problem with spending a first rounder on a WR from time to time, but THREE years running? That's insane.
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