Data Scout Notes: Co-OPOY/AFCA/1stC/P1stM/PPayton/PM2nd…09: AP3rd
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When Taiwan Jones' names rolls across the ticker on the bottom of the screen on draft weekend, it won't raise much of an eyebrow among casual observers other than a mild curiosity about his first name.
That could change quickly if Jones is able to stay healthy and put his explosive style on display regularly in the NFL. Little-known outside of the scouting community, Jones signed with Eastern Washington as a cornerback. His battle with various injuries was kick-started with a broken leg that cost him the first four games of the 2008 season.
Jones returned to start four games at cornerback and flashed big-play ability on special teams. He made the switch to running back after the season and became an immediate star, going 87 yards for a touchdown on his first career handoff. He would finish the 2009 season with 2,345 all-purpose yards, second-most in school history.
Jones improved on that production last season, rushing for 1,742 yards and 14 touchdowns and racking up 2,421 all-purpose yards. The numbers are even more impressive considering he missed the final two playoff games with a broken bone in his left foot (Eastern Washington still won the FCS National Championship).
Jones surprised many scouts when he decided to forego his final year of eligibility. But he has little left to prove at the lower level of competition, and another significant injury would have only hurt his draft stock further.
As it is, Jones still hasn't been able to work out for team since foot surgery and has an all-important workout scheduled for April 14. More than two-thirds of NFL teams are expected to be in attendance to get a first-hand look at potentially the fastest and most explosive running back in this class.
Jones averaged a ridiculous 7.9 yards per carry in 24 career games. Some of that is due to the level of competition, but his elusiveness, acceleration and breakaway speed are tantalizing.
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.
Compares to: Jamaal Charles, Chiefs - Small and elusive with home-run ability, Jones has a chance to do a lot with a limited amount of touches if he's able to stay healthy.
Jones enters his junior season in 2010 with the third-highest all-purpose yards average in school history (136.8 per game). His 2,600 all-purpose yards overall are just 882 from ranking 10th on EWU’s all-time leaders list. Despite playing just one season as a running back, he has averaged a touchdown every 12.0 times he touches the ball (240 touches, 20 TD) and 10.8 yards per touch. He needs 787 rushing yards to become the 12th player in school history to go over the 2,000-yard mark. Jones also ranks eighth in school history in average per kickoff return (23.6) and 10th in total kickoff return yards (825). Jones has had 21 plays of at least 32 yards in his career (18 in 2009), and 10 of at least 50 (nine in 2009). As a running back in 2009, Jones averaged 6.1 yards per carry at home on the grass surface of Woodward Field, but that was boosted to 8.2 in EWU’s other eight games on fields that featured seven artificial surfaces as well as one grass field at Sacramento State with excellent footing.
Jones, who ranked second in FCS in both rushing yards (145.2 per game) and all-purpose yards (201.8), suffered a fracture to the base of his fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot in EWU's 38-31 overtime victory over North Dakota State Dec. 11 in the quarterfinals. He finished with a career-high 230 yards rushing in that game, including 203 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but wasn’t able to play again. Jones is believed to be the first Eastern player to declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft before exhausting his Eastern eligibility. In 2007, current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey left Eastern following his junior season on the EWU basketball team and was a first-round draft choice and the 15th pick overall.
Jones scored on an 87-yard run on his first career carry, and went on to earn third team All-America honors from both Associated Press and the Sports Network. He was also a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection. He finished with 1,213 rushing yards in 2009 to rank as the sixth-most in school history. He ranked in the top 10 in FCS in rushing (ninth, 101.1 per game), scoring (sixth, 9.50 per game) and all-purpose yards per game (second, 195.4). His 2,345 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, returns) were the second-most in school history, and his 19 touchdowns and 114 total points both rank fourth. For the season, Jones averaged a lofty 7.4 yards per rush in an average of 13.5 carries per game. Including receiving and returns, he averaged 10.1 yards every time he touched the ball and averaged a touchdown every 12.2 touches. Jones battled a variety of ailments -- including hand, shoulder and hip flexor injuries -- but still played in all 12 games, starting nine. On the first offensive play of the game in his debut as a running back against Western Oregon (9/5/09), Jones scored on an 87-yard touchdown on his first carry in a game since his senior year in high school in 2006. At the time, it equaled the fifth-longest run in school history, and is currently sixth after his 96-yard run later in the year.
Jones finished the Western Oregon game with 122 yards and two scores on 12 carries. Following his performance against Sacramento State (9/26/09) in a 56-30 win, Jones was Sports Network co-Offensive Player of the Week and earned the same honor from the Big Sky Conference as he shared the honor with two other players. Playing in just his fourth game as a collegiate running back, his yardage total was the 29th-most in school history, and the best by an Eagle in nearly five seasons. Coupled with 69 yards on three kickoff returns and a pass reception for 20 yards, Jones finished with 279 all-purpose yards. He averaged 12.7 yards per rush, and 14.7 yards the 19 times he touched the ball. One game earlier, Jones had 164 all-purpose yards versus Northern Colorado (9/19/09), including 95 yards rushing on 18 carries. His 52-yard kickoff return would have been an 85-yard touchdown, but a penalty shortened it. In 2008, Jones had a 93-yard return for a touchdown versus the Bears. That return helped convince the coaching staff to move him to running back in 2009 to help replace four departed seniors at that position. In EWU’s 38-3 win at Idaho State (10/3/09), Jones had a school-record 96-yard touchdown run on his way to rushing for 168 yards (45th best all-time at Eastern) and three touchdowns on just 14 carries (12.0 per rush).
It was the fourth-longest rush in Big Sky history and the longest in the league in nearly 20 years. His big play came on the first offensive play of the second half as he broke several tackles and simply out-ran several more as the Eagles took a 28-3 lead. He broke the previous record of 95 yards set by John Ditz against Lewis & Clark in 1954. In all, he had six 100-yard rushing performances, adding 145 yards versus Montana (10/17/09), 115 against Northern Arizona (11/21/09) and 118 versus Stephen F. Austin (11/28/09), scoring a TD in each game. He ended the season by catching 10 passes for 68 yards versus SFA. He also had 149 yards receiving on six catches against Montana State as he finished with 264 all-purpose yards. He had at least 200 all-purpose yards in six games, including his last three and five of his last six. He had 274 all-purpose yards in Eastern’s playoff-clinching win against Northern Arizona (11/21/09), including 115 rushing, 82 receiving and 77 on kickoff returns. He scored once on a 71-yard run and another on an 80-yard reception which ranks as the 18th-longest pass play in school history.
One game earlier, he had 77 rushing yards and a touchdown at Southern Utah (11/14/09), part of a 222-yard all-purpose yardage day that also included 75 yards and a TD on four receptions. In addition, he had 70 yards on two kickoff returns, including a 50-yarder on the game’s opening kickoff to set-up EWU’s first touchdown. Three times he was the team’s offensive player of the week -- UNC, Sac State and MSU. Jones moved to running back from cornerback in the spring and had touchdown catches of 15 and 17 yards in the Red-White Spring Game, and also rushed for a scrimmage-high 33 yards. In four total spring scrimmages, he rushed for 134 yards on 16 carries (8.4 per carry) and scored five total touchdowns, including scoring runs of 41 and 39 yards.
Started four games at field cornerback after missing much of the first part of the season with a broken fibula suffered in the first week of preseason practices. He made his much-anticipated collegiate debut against Portland State (10/4/08), but received more playing time than what was anticipated when starting cornerback Lonnie Hosley suffered a foot injury that kept him out of the final six games of the season. He had a career-high 15 tackles versus Sacramento State (11/1/08) and also had two blocked kicks over the course of the season. Was the team’s special teams player of the week against Northern Colorado (9/19/09) when he returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and subsequently was one of three team co-captains the following week. He helped the Eagles finish 12th in FCS in kickoff returns (22.9 per return).
Redshirted. He was offensive scout team player of the week twice.
2010: Missed the final two games of the playoffs with a broken bone in his left foot. 2009: Played in all 12 games in 2009, but battled hand, shoulder (both) and hip-flexor injuries and underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia. 2008: Missed the first four games of the season due to a broken leg. High School: Missed time as a high school senior with an ankle injury and four games of his redshirt freshman season with a broken fibula.
Combine: Did not work out while recovering from foot surgery.
Graduated from Deer Valley HS in 2007. He was the Contra Costa Times Player of the Year and also earned first team San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro honors as a running back. Jones was MVP of the Bay Valley Athletic League and his team’s MVP on offense. He set his school’s single season record with 19 touchdowns as a two-way starter. He rushed for 1,466 yards (9.3 per carry) and 13 touchdowns, and also scored three receiving and two on punt returns. Three of his six catches were for touchdowns and a total of 191 yards. On defense, he had 37 tackles with a sack and three interceptions. One of his interceptions he returned for a score. He led the Wolverines to a 10-0 regular season record and their first league title. A fourth-quarter ankle injury in the playoffs contributed to the team’s first loss of the season. The year before, Deer Valley finished just 4-6.
Born 7/26/88 in San Francisco, Calif. Interdisciplinary liberal arts major.
Draft Scout Player News
02/25/14 - CB Taiwan Jones signed a three-year contract extension. The extension is worth $4.355 million and puts Jones under contract through the 2017 season.
Jones became an important part of the Raiders' special teams in 2013 after moving from running back to cornerback last summer. He has never started a game in his three seasons in the NFL, but he averaged 24.0 yards on kick returns in 2013.
"I was excited when they came to me about the extension. It is definitely a blessing for a local kid to be part of the Raiders' turnaround," Jones, who is from Antioch, Calif., said in a statement. "I've been an underdog all my life, so I think it's very fitting for me to remain here. I'm definitely excited about it."
12/27/13 - CB Taiwan Jones, who leads the Raiders with 13 special teams tackles, was moved back to defensive back after playing three weeks at running back to provide depth.
11/26/12 - RB Taiwan Jones had a pair of stops in punt coverage, tying him with TE Richard Gordon for the team lead.
11/23/12 - RB Taiwan Jones was limited in practice with an ankle injury and his potential absence would leave Marcel Reece and Jeremy Stewart as the lone running backs other than fullback Owen Schmitt.
11/12/12 - RB Taiwan Jones remains largely inactive, his near world-class speed negated by nagging injuries, missed practice time and missed assignments.
With Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson unable to play because of high ankle sprains, the Raiders didn't sign a running back because coach Dennis Allen said they had options on the roster.
But Jones carried only twice for six yards. Allen was blunt when asked why Jones wasn't a bigger part of the game plan.
"We have to know when he goes into the game, he's going to know what to do and he's going to protect the football and he's got to be able to stay healthy … as he improves those things, he'll get more playing time," Allen said.
Jones said it was his job to "earn their trust.
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