As we delve further into the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, our attention has begun to shift towards the draft. Like we’ve done all offseason, these reports will cover the prospects of the 2015 NFL Draft, placing an emphasis on those who could help the Steelers the most.
Today, we’re evaluating the running back from Florida, Matt Jones.
#24 – Matt Jones/RB Florida: 6’2/3 231
– Unique size, big back but his height helps even him out, carries his weight well
– Shows plus power when he gets up to speed, runs through contact and wins against smaller defensive backs
– Nasty demeanor, looks to finish his runs as opposed to ducking out of bounds
– Flashes balance as a runner, ability to stay on his feet and churn out extra yards
– Size makes him an asset in pass protection, overall, is effective and shows the ability to square and anchor against blitzers
– Downhill runner who understands the type of his back he is, in-between-the-tackles who won’t bounce runs unless it is available
– Some explosion in his routes out of the backfield, doesn’t get lazy with them
– Small, 8 5/8 inch hands
– Lacks any initial burst and struggles to get up to speed to show off his power
– No wiggle, runs through, not around, and isn’t a threat to make defenders miss in the open field
– Struggles in his change of direction, takes too long to gather himself, will be limited to power schemes
– Lacks top end speed and unlikely to produce many splash plays in the NFL
– Ran limited routes out of college and was rarely targeted
– Statistically inconsistent, team didn’t trust him enough to be a full-time starter, has as many dud performances as good ones
– Limited body of work in his career
– Injury history with a pattern of knee injuries
– 15 career starts, 10 in 2014, declared early as a junior
– 2014: 166 carries for 817 yards (4.9 YPC) 6 TDs
– Only season with 100+ carries
– Three 100+ yard games in 2014, five < 50
– Career: 1431 rushing yards 11 TDs
– Only 19 career receptions
– Missed bowl game in 2014 with a shoulder injury
– Tore meniscus in left knee mid-way through 2013, missed the rest of the year, had another surgery to finish repairing it in in February of 2014
– Missed part of fall camp in 2013 with a viral infection
– Tore meniscus in right knee senior year of high school, missing four games, but did return and play well
– Has a toddler daughter, born his senior year of HS
Jones is a player we’re profiling because of the Steelers’ apparent interest in him. The team took him out to dinner before Florida’s Pro Day.
There was one game cutup of him available on Draft Breakdown, our go-to source for footage. And I can tell why they took the time to post that one. The tape is impressive; granted, it does come against a Kentucky unit that finished 12th out of 14 team in SEC run defense.
As you would anticipate, Jones is a power runner. Guy loves to deliver a blow and as this tape shows, he is capable of it.
This is one of my favorite runs I watched of his. Runs through the weak side linebacker in the hole, stays on his feet, and caps it off by steamrolling the defensive back. Going to make the DB think twice about wanting to tackle him again.
That’s Jones at his best. Have the initial hole created for him, get downhill, build momentum, and run people over.
His size and strength makes him an asset in pass protection. Something a lot of college runners have to learn.
Jones was often rotated out every other series but the team nixed that to ensure Jones played in the Gators’ two minute drill at the end of the game against Florida State. At the game’s climax, 4th and 8, Jones identifies the blitzing corner off the edge – Ronald Darby – gets to his spot, squares, and stands him up.
Unfortunately, he disappeared in so many games. Couldn’t replicate the Kentucky tape against any worthwhile defenses. Against the top three defenses he faced, Jones averaged 3.4 yards per carry. I realize his offense wasn’t the greatest but he did run behind a veteran offensive line than will see three to four players drafted.
He lacks the explosion and speed needed to make the jump to the NFL. His power is derived from that speed and momentum. Too often he stalls at the line of scrimmage unless the hole is immediately there.
Understanding that he is a power back, the change of direction is still pretty terrible. Takes too long to gather himself and is too stiff to cut. Not going to succeed in the NFL looking like that.
And he can’t get through the hole before the backside defender drags him down. Would like to see more pop to avoid that. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of the entire blocking scheme.
I wouldn’t call him a true plodder the way I categorized Andre Williams last year, but he’s close enough to legitimately question if his speed is going to make it in the NFL. Jones ran well at the Combine (4.61) and his Pro Day but it doesn’t show up on tape.
The injuries become concerning the more I learn about their nature. Has had both knees worked on, including that left knee twice. For a power guy, knee trouble can be a death blow. Since his senior year in college, only once has Jones played an entire year injury-free. His freshman year at Florida that saw him receive only 52 carries. Can you trust him medically? I’m, at the very least, worried. What’s going to happen if you ask him to handle 250 carries if he hasn’t shown he can handle a fraction of that?
He’ll have to play in a power, downhill scheme in order to have a chance to stick. I would have some interest in him as a third down back but it doesn’t go much farther than that. In a deep running back class, I doubt I’d have him on my personal board.
Projection: Mid 5th-Early 6th
Games Watched: at Kentucky, vs Missouri, vs Florida St
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