Jacksonville drafts Jones

University of Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones completes a meteoric rise up the NFL draft charts by being taken in the first round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Former University of Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones is now a Jacksonville Jaguar wide receiver after being taken by that team in the first round.

Jones, the record-setting Razorback quarterback, was taken with the 21st pick and will begin make the transition from QB to wideout.

"We had 21 players we would draft when the day began. When the pick came, he was number one," Jaguars personnel director James Harris told Vic Ketchman, Jaguars.com senior editor, for the team's website.

Jacksonville finished the 2004 season with a 9-7 record - just a game out of the playoffs - with Jones likely coming in as a third wideout option for promising young quarterback Byron Leftwich.

The Jaguars' pass-catchers were led last season by Jimmy Smith (74 catches, 1172 yards, 6 TDs) and Troy Edwards (50 catches, 533 yards, 1 TD), but rookie Reggie Smith was starting for Edwards at season's end

Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio was clearly enamored with Jones, who will likely help with a team's offense that was 29th in scoring last season.

"He ran through the SEC and he made the other guys look like they were standing still," Del Rio told the website. "You're talking about the best football conference in the country. He's got some wow! to his game. The guy had 77 touchdowns in his career. He's played his best in the biggest moments of games. He's made play after play after play to win games."

There certainly is some risk to the pick seeing as how Jones caught just four passes during his career at Arkansas.

"There's risk with anybody you take," Del Rio said. "This is a play-maker. He's been productive at every stage and at every level he's been at. He's been a winner all of his life."

Harris agreed with that assessement.

"I see it as a guy who's 4.3, 6-6, dominated high school, dominated college," Harris noted. "I see it as a play-maker. You just have to go with it. We might as well take the criticism with a 4.39 guy who's 6-6 and dominated at every level he's played."

Del Rio said Jones will be worked into the mix.

"Can he catch the ball? He's got great hands. Can he separate? He's got great speed," Del Rio said.

"There are questions about how long it'll take him to (learn) the whole route tree, but we're going to use him at the route tree he knows," Del Rio added. "Whether he's playing in the slot or outside, he's going to be tough to defend," Del Rio said. "We have a specific role in mind. We believe we'll be able to enhance that and build on that as we go."

One bonus for Jacksonville and Jones is that he will play for wideout coach Steve Walters, who was ust hired after grooming Drew Bennett - a former UCLA QB turned wideout - into one of the league's top pass catchers.

Jacksonville's final preseason game will be against the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium on Sept. 1 and then the Jags will open the season by hosting Seattle (Sept. 11) and then visiting Indianapolis (Sept. 18).



MORE TO COME


Hawgs Daily Top Stories