So many people state that speed is the name of the game. And that's the primary reason why Cayleb Jones, despite being a sculpted 6-foot-3, jump-ball-winning machine, is a bit overlooked in some circles. Jones ran a 4.69 40-yard dash at The Opening, and was listed on the Austin High prospect list as a guy who runs slightly faster than 4.6 seconds.
But here's the thing: watch his film, and he's not really slow. Football is full of players who don't time well, but who run well on the football field in full pads, and in that respect (and others), Jones reminds me a lot of another player I covered, former All-Big 12 receiver and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Dezmon Briscoe, one of the top receivers in conference history.
Like Briscoe (who was passed over after running a 4.7 in high school), Jones plays faster than his 40 time. And like Briscoe, Jones makes up for any speed deficiency through uncanny body control and ball skills. Jones treats every 50-50 ball like it's personal, and he once told me that his dad told him he needs to win those balls or he can't come home. He plays like that.
And ultimately, from watching Briscoe, I can tell you that those are more valuable abilities than a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. Because for whatever reason (coverage, pressure forcing the quarterback to throw early, etc.), there are a number of plays that receivers must make before they are able to gain separation. And so a player who can win balls without needing to separate is immensely valuable.
Jones also has everything else you'd look for. Polished route-runner? Check. Great hands? Double check. Quick feet? Check again. He's physical, gets in and out of his breaks quickly and uses his body to shield defenders. And if he gets one paw on the ball, chances are he's coming down with it.
Jones is almost pathologically competitive, and will put in the work to ensure that he'll reach his full potential. And in a lot of cases, that's more important than having a 4.4-second 40 time in the first place.