There are hundreds of stories being told during the planning and anticipation of the 2017 NFL Draft. Today we will be looking at a scouting report for running back Aaron Jones, Texas El-Paso (UTEP) Miners.
RB-Aaron Jones, Texas-El Paso 5’ 10” 215 lbs.
Jones is a three year starter whose 2015 season was shortened to only two games due to an ankle injury. I’m a high school football coach and educator by trade, so I am going to break down what I saw in the four games I reviewed of the junior runner. For some reason, I could only find highlights of his 2016 season which are not always indicative of his flaws as they concentrate on his accomplishments. So instead I reviewed two 2015 contests against Arkansas and Texas Tech, and then two 2014 games against the same Texas Tech and Utah State. Here are my thoughts:
This young man was arrested in February 2016 of driving while influenced and agreed in May 2016 to be involved in a pretrial diversion program. Substance abuse issues are a point of contention in the microscoped world of the NFL; he must stay clean to remain in consideration. While he has seems to have fully recovered from his ankle issue that cost him most of the 2015 season, NFL team doctors may find other issues that could limit his longevity at the next level. As a ball carrier, Jones runs a bit high allowing defenders into his body and subjecting himself to more physical punishment, instead of delivering it. The back does not have much legs strength which could limit his usage and effectiveness between the tackles where most of the RB work is done in the NFL. Also his pass blocking skill set seemed to be getting in the way for one to two seconds, that will need to be greatly improved; otherwise the defense could be tipped off to play call usage by his personnel packages.
There is a lot to like about his game and his college performance this past year shows it: 229 carries for 1773 rushing yards with 17 touchdowns, along with 28 catches for 233 yards receiving and three receiving scores. When I watch him play, I am reminded of current Bucs runner Charles Sims and former 49er Charlie Garner with his slashing, slippery running style that works well in open space. Jones uses jump cuts, hurdling, and spin moves with his quick bouncy feet and balance to avoid people outside. His downfield vision is quite good as he follows his blockers well and can find the cutback lanes easily. The former Miner has soft hands and can get behind his coverage to make catches in stride down the field. In tight coverage, he will shield the pigskin from the defender in pursuit of him. Occasionally Jones lined up in the slot, but could also take a direct snap and throw an accurate jump pass in the end zone. He is willing to do whatever it takes to get the ball across the stripe.
In a class with a lot of running back talent, Jones can be easy to miss. He could certainly be a pass catching option in a West Coast type offense. Those jobs aren’t always easy to discover. I’d draft him in the late 4th or early 5th (depending on how many rounds you have for rookie drafts) as a taxi squad stash and monitor his development. He is currently sitting as my 20th best back in this year’s class.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to discuss my scouting reports with you throughout the next several months, so keep checking the site for more content. Please check out my other content as well. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.