Jones Continues To Catch Attention

FAYETTEVILLE -- Former Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones proved he isn't perfect during the Razorbacks' second on-campus pro day Wednesday.

The 6-foot-6, 242-pounder, who has made his move from quarterback to receiver look relatively easy, dropped a pass at the end of his 30-minute workout for NFL personnel in the Walker Indoor Pavilion. It was the first time anyone could remember Jones dropping a pass during his impressive pre-NFL Draft tour.

"I guess you've got to drop one," Jones said with a shrug of his shoulders. "You wish you wouldn't. But that's all right."

It's safe to say one drop won't result in a sudden dip in Jones' NFL prospects, which have been on the rise the past three months. The Fort Smith native, who was one of 12 former Hogs in attendance for Wednesday's pro day, turned in another strong performance in front of an audience that included Tennessee Titans receivers coach Ray Sherman and Houston Texans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer.

Former Arkansas receiver Steven Harris, running back DeCori Birmingham, defensive tackles Arrion Dixon and defensive end Jeb Huckeba also worked out Wednesday. But it was clear that most of the small crowd wanted to see Jones, who worked at tight end and H-back two weeks ago, get plenty of repetitions at receiver.

"I heard he had an outstanding workout the last time," Sherman said of Jones' March 16 workout. "I just wanted to come in and put him through some things and have a chance to have a first-hand look at him and see what he was able to do.

"I think he did a nice job. He's a very athletic young man. He's smart. He listens. I think he's got a lot of talent."

Jones skipped the testing portion after turning in solid times at the NFL Scouting Combine and Arkansas' first on-campus pro day, but took turns running routes with Harris. The duo caught passes from former teammate and Central Arkansas quarterback Zak Clark, who transferred from Arkansas after the 2001 season.

Palmer said Jones caught close to 20 balls during his workout and added that "even the great ones drop one" every now and then.

Sherman, who coaches former college quarterback turned receiver Drew Bennett at Tennessee, said Jones' size and hands were impressive.

"You're talking about a guy that played quarterback and has been a quarterback his four years here," said Sherman, who worked one-on-one with Jones. "Then he has to come out and run routes and catch the ball. I thought he did a nice job as far as catching the ball."

Jones has been touted as a versatile athlete that could play quarterback, receiver or tight end in the NFL. He is willing to play all three if asked, but believes his career will begin at receiver.

"I think that's the first thing as far as the first position that I play will be wide receiver," Jones said. "Now, can I do other things? I think I might do other things, but I think it is going to be mainly as a receiver."

Palmer, who was head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 1999 and 2000, also believes that will happen. He compared Jones to Pittsburgh receivers Antwan Randle El and Hines Ward and said he is capable of playing a variety of roles.

"I think he's going to be a guy that will probably come into the league as a wide receiver," Palmer said. "Somebody might draft him as a quarterback and then move him to wide receiver. But he's very, very talented and you're going to see him (play) on Sunday for many, many years to come."

Jones might have a few more private workouts and interviews to attend in the next couple weeks, but said Wednesday was likely his last big workout for scouts.

Jones believes his performance the past three months has at least helped earn a selection on the first day of April's draft (Rounds 1 through 3). But he won't rule out the growing possibility of becoming a late first- or second-round surprise.

"That's what I'm hearing," Jones said. "But who knows what you hear. You never know. The draft is a funny chess board game. It will be fun watch it."

Odds and Ends
Clark and Jones played catch for the first time since 2001, when Clark entered the season as starting quarterback and Jones was a true freshman receiver. The duo split time at quarterback over the second half of the season and Clark transferred to Central Arkansas at the end of the year. ... Huckeba ran 40-yard dashes on the track surface (4.61 seconds) and the artificial turf (4.66) Wednesday. Harris ran his two 40s in 4.5 and 4.52 seconds. ... Huckeba said he has interviews with the San Diego Chargers (April 3), Green Bay Packers (April 6), Seattle Seahawks (April 7) and the Kansas City Chiefs (April 13) the next couple weeks.

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