Jones Continues To Impress

FAYETTEVILLE -- Former Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones turned the final corner, gritted his teeth and sprinted to the end of an agility drill in the Walker Indoor Pavilion on Wednesday morning.

As soon as he crossed the finish line, NFL scouts clicked their stop watches and examined Jones' time. They already knew the 6-foot-6, 242-pounder was freakishly fast. But at least one scout was impressed by Jones' performance.

"It's unbelievable," he whispered.

Jones wowed NFL personnel with his pass-catching abilities during the Senior Bowl in January and left a mark with his blazing 40-yard dash time at the 2005 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month. The multi-talented athlete, who has created a buzz at every stop before the 2005 NFL Draft, continued to prove to scouts that seeing is believing Wednesday.

Jones was one of 12 draft-eligible Razorbacks that participated in the first of Arkansas' two on-campus pro dates. Former teammates like DeCori Birmingham, Jeb Huckeba, Steven Harris and Arrion Dixon also worked out for 22 professional football scouts during a four-hour interview session, but Jones was the center of attention.

The Fort Smith native didn't run the 40 after turning in a blistering unofficial time of 4.37 seconds at the combine. In fact, Jones joked he'll probably never run one again unless he's wearing a helmet and shoulder pads. Instead, he participated in agility drills, worked out at receiver and H-back and added to his predraft resume.

"He's just an elite athlete overall," said Baltimore Ravens personnel assistant and former Arkansas offensive lineman Jeremiah Washburn, who was well aware of Jones' talents before the combine. "You've got to see him in person.

"Seeing is believing with him. It really is."

Jones ran the short shuttle, where an athlete runs five yards in one direction, 10 the opposite direction and then back five, in 4.1 seconds. He ran the long shuttle, a 60-yard version of the short shuttle, between 11.1 and 11.5 seconds. Jones also ran the L-drill, an agility test around cones in the shape of an 'L,' in 6.65 seconds.

"There was a couple events I didn't get to do at the combine, so I wanted to come and do well with those events," Jones said. "I just get to be around everybody and talk to everybody and I thought it went well.

"(Scouts aren't) going to say a whole lot right now. The draft is another six weeks away. But I think I did well in all the things I did (Wednesday)."

That also included drills at receiver and H-back, where Jones worked with Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes for 30 minutes. He ran routes at H-back, lined up at receiver and caught passes from Arkansas graduate assistant Dowell Loggains.

Jones, who worked out as a quarterback at the combine, didn't throw a pass during Wednesday's workout. He believes several teams have narrowed his potential NFL position to receiver and H-back, while continuing to search for the best fit.

"When they talk about tight end, they're talking about a slot guy, an H-back guy that moves around a lot," Jones said. "They're not talking about a (Arkansas tight end) Jared Hicks or a (former Hog tight end) Jason Peters. They're talking about a guy that's going to catch the ball, like (San Diego Chargers tight end) Antonio Gates.

"You never know what's going to happen. There's a lot of options open and it depends on who drafts me and who wants me to do what. I think time will tell that."

Jones had a private workout with the Jacksonville Jaguars last Friday and will visit other teams in the next few weeks. Jones said the predraft workouts are rapidly coming to an end, leaving little on his agenda except for interviews.

Arkansas will hold its second on-campus pro date on March 30, but Jones said he might not participate because he's satisfied with his speed and agility times. Jones said he'll work out if scouts want him to perform a few more position specific drills.

But Arkansas coach Houston Nutt doesn't think that will be necessary. He thinks Jones already has convinced NFL teams he's worthy of being selected in the first three rounds of April's draft.

"There's no way he's going to be a second-day pick (Rounds 4 through 7) ," said Nutt, who watched Wednesday's workout. "You never know. But it's hard for me to believe this guy's going to be a second-day pick.

"I think there's a spot for him. There's a place. I'm not saying for 60 minutes, but I'm saying, let him play wide receiver and give him a package at quarterback. He's going to drive defensive coordinators crazy."

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