In the Film Room: Tai-ler Jones

Whether it is fair or not, whenever I hear that the son of a former Notre Dame player is looking at the Irish my initial reaction isn't positive. I wonder if the young player would actually be someone the Irish would recruit if the father wasn't an alum? When I was first asked to do a film review of Tai-ler Jones I was a bit nervous.

What if he isn't very good? How exactly do you say that the son of a former player isn't very good? Once I started watching the film my fears were quickly put to rest. It doesn't matter who his father is, Tai-ler Jones scholarship offer to Notre Dame was earned and well deserved. He's a very good wide receiver prospect who was very productive as a high school junior and is the prototype slot receiver.

The 6'0, 175 Jones isn't the biggest player and at this point in his development is relatively skinny. In order to excel in college Jones will need to add strength and additional size. Additional size will allow him to hold up better as he transitions to the college level against bigger players. Additional strength will not only allow him to be more physical in college but also will increase his speed and explosiveness. Jones showed good effort in the run game but in order to be a productive run game blocker in college he will need this additional size and strength.

At this point the Gainesville High standout has good speed but isn't a true burner. This is my no means a knock as he has plenty of speed to be an excellent player; he's just not a blazer. I do like that on the field Jones does max out his speed quickly which allows him to play fast. What Jones does have is excellent quickness and agility. Jones also has very active feet, never stops working or driving his legs, and has very good balance. Despite his lack of size he's a very tough football player and that, along with his balance and leg drive, makes him very hard to bring down at the high school level. This is a rare trait for a player with his size. Although at times he can be a bit erratic with his movements overall Jones is a very smooth athlete with fluid hips and excellent body control. He's an excellent stop and go prospect who uses his outstanding vision to find creases in the defense and burst through the gaps. In high school he is asked to run a high quantity of screens. He uses his agility, speed, vision, and toughness to make a lot of plays after the catch. Jones is a legit big play threat due to this. I'd like to see Jones develop a stiff arm move to add to his repertoire. As much work as he does after the catch a legitimate stiff arm would allow him to make even more yards.

Jones has very good catching ability. He has naturally strong hands and shows good concentration with the football in the air. The Gainesville High standout often catches the ball smoothly away from his body and plucks the ball out of the air. One area where Jones needs a lot of improvement is how he goes after the football. He'll need to learn to attack the football, some say go meet the football, instead of drifting upfield as the ball comes near him. In college he won't as much room or cushion as he has now, drifting away from the football will allow defenders to close on him, tackle him as he makes the catch, or break up the play. Jones also tends to let the ball get too far away from his body as he is making plays. He needs to keep the ball tighter to his body and protect the football a bit better.

Earlier in this evaluation I mentioned that Jones is the prototype slot receiver. His quickness, big play ability, hands, and toughness are factors in that. But what truly makes him the prototype slot player is his ability to work against the zone. He does an excellent job getting open and is quite adept at finding the open holes. He has a knack for sensing the openings and finding them. He works quickly out of closed windows or soon to be closing window and working quickly into the next hole. Jones also does a good job of throttling down when needed. Finally Jones is able to find the quarterback throughout his route and always gives the quarterback a target to hit. At this point in his development Jones isn't as adept as a route runner, but he has excellent potential as a route runner. His issues are completely technical. Jones has the athletic skills (quick burst, quick feet, acceleration) and instincts to become an excellent route runner; he just needs to improve his technique. To begin with Jones needs to continue to improve his stance and take off. He has too much of a false step at the snap and as he works vertically he tends to have too much movement with his body. His stance has improved quite a bit from his sophomore season, but he still needs work.

Jones also needs to learn how to properly attack defenders on his vertical stem. At this point he just runs vertically and doesn't attack the proper angles and also doesn't always get close enough (eat up the cushion) of defenders before he makes his secondary moves. Jones shows good quickness in and out of his routes and gains good separation. At times he gets a bit too choppy with his steps and needs to be more consistent acceleration through his route. On out cuts Jones shows good quickness but needs to be a bit more sharp and needs to learn to fight back downhill instead of drifting once he makes his out cut. When Jones is running vertically against an aggressive defender he'll get re-routed and thrown off track. Additional size and strength will certainly help against this but Jones also needs to learn how to use his hands and body to guard against this type of coverage. Jones's speed, agility, and instincts combined with this improved technique would make him an excellent route runner.

While he lacks great size and speed at this point Jones does have the skills to be an excellent college football player. He's already produced big numbers, he's an excellent athlete, has excellent hands, and also is a very intelligent football player. His future is very bright and with additional size and strength Jones has the potential to be a standout in college.


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