Chargers meet with potential sleeper

General Manager A.J. Smith has a reputation for finding big talent in small-school settings. San Diego's 2006 roster included players from Southern Connecticut State (Jacques Cesaire), Jackson State (Cletis Gordon) and the University of Northern Colorado (Vincent Jackson). Now, Smith has his eyes on another small-school player, a wide receiver the team recently brought in for a private visit.

Adam Caplan and Tony Pauline of Scout.com have confirmed that Lane College wide receiver Jacoby Jones has a visit scheduled with the San Diego Chargers. During his four-year college career, Jones totaled 200 receptions for 2,750 yards (13.8-yard average) and 21 touchdowns.

An incredible athlete, Jones has been compared favorably to Marques Colston. Both came from small schools; both had strong showings in the East-West Shine game; and both have the ability to outperform players drafted ahead of them.

"Jones is getting a lot of attention recently," Pauline said. "The game-breaking receiver who also doubled as a return specialist had several big names attend his pro-day workout, including Norm Chow (offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans), Kippy Brown (receivers coach of the Detroit Lions) and Mike Johnson (receivers coach of the Baltimore Ravens)."

Jones' greatest asset may be his speed. A former track star, he ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at the Indianapolis Combine.

Still a raw player, Jones will take time to develop. He did not play much football at the high school level and still has holes in his game. He drops too many passes and seems hesitant to go over the middle.

However, his incredible athleticism will make him difficult to ignore on draft day. He has terrific suddenness and is hard to bring down in the open field. Additionally, his combination of speed and leaping ability makes him a stellar downfield threat.

"Jones grades as a third-round pick, yet with a plethora of terrific talent at the receiver position ready to come off the board in round two, he could slip into the draft's second day," Pauline said.

It is hard to project how Jones might contribute in San Diego. He prefers to work the sidelines and challenge cornerbacks deep, but that is the exact role currently filled by Malcom Floyd.

Also, it is unlikely he would be able to supplant Darren Sproles in the return game.

That is not to imply the Chargers should pass on Jones. It was difficult to fathom how Colston would contribute last season with the Saints, as New Orleans already had Joe Horn, Donte Stallworth and Devery Henderson on its roster when it drafted him. He ended up leading the team with 1,038 receiving yards and eight scores.

Good players find their way onto the field. If Jones begins to slip on the second day of the draft, the Chargers may view him as the type of low-risk, high-reward selection that is impossible to pass up.

Jones also has a visit scheduled with the Philadelphia Eagles and a private workout setup with the New England Patriots.


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