Jones' Athleticism Jumps Off Page

Arkansas State's Don Jones, who will make a stop in Green Bay as part of his extensive pre-draft tour, has athletic ability reminiscent of Nick Collins in the 2005 draft.

Don Jones can practically leap tall buildings in a single bound.

And he's shooting up draft boards faster than a speeding bullet.

Jones, a safety from Arkansas State — the same school that produced safety M.D. Jennings — is scheduled to have a pre-draft visit with the Green Bay Packers. At his pro day workout, which was attended by a Packers scout, Jones officially posted a 42-inch vertical jump. In reality, he cleared the entire stack and jumped a bit higher than 44 inches.

"Whomever picks me will get a ball-player dedicated to the game who brings it 100 percent, day in and day out," Jones told's Aaron Wilson on Wednesday. "They'll get a great special-teams player. I love special teams because I feel like they're a big part of making a difference in whether you win or lose."

The Packers have been searching for answers at safety since losing Nick Collins to a career-ending injury in Week 2 of the 2011 season. There are some similarities. Collins went to Bethune-Cookman, a FCS-level school. Jones went to Arkansas State, which is a lower-rung FBS-level school. Heading into the 2005 draft, Collins ran a 4.36 in the 40 with a 40-inch vertical. Jones (5-11, 191) ran 4.40 at his pro day.

Jones is a man in demand, with visits or workouts with about one-third of the league.

"I've been hearing some good stuff," Jones said of his visits.

Safety tends to be a real wild card in the draft. Based on media projections, the Packers reached on Collins as well as Jerron McMillian, last year's fourth-round pick. The Patriots shocked observers by grabbing Tavon Wilson in the second round last year. The Raiders shocked observers, as well, by using a second-round pick on Mike Mitchell in 2009.

Jones, who grew up on a farm in his hometown of Town Creek, Ala., was a state champion in the 100, 200 and 400 meters at Hazelwood High School. As a senior, he rushed for 1,853 yards and 22 touchdowns. In basketball, he was a standout center and power forward despite his lack of height.

"I've always been able to jump," Jones said. "I played down low because of my ability to jump, box out and bend. I averaged about 17 points per game."

Jones went to Arkansas State as a running back and rushed for 149 yards on 24 carries as a freshman. Academic problems, however, sent him to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he was moved to safety. With his grades in order and a new position on the football field, Jones went back to Arkansas State, even though bigger schools had started recruiting him.

"I have a two-year-old daughter who had just been born in Jonesboro, Ark.," Jones said. "She's my heart, so I'm very motivated to make it to the NFL for her and my family."

In his two seasons playing safety for Arkansas State, he tallied 128 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defensed. He was not invited to the Scouting Combine, perhaps because he did not garner any all-Sun Belt Conference accolades.

"Yes, it's definitely put a big chip on my shoulder," Jones said. "It makes you work harder."

The pro day numbers, however, have Jones' draft stock on the rise. A scout recently told Packer Report that Jones is the "sleeper" of the safety class and could go in the third or fourth round.

On film, Jones' aggressiveness and hard-hitting nature are on display.

"I love to hit, that's a natural part of my game," Jones said. "I try to emulate Troy Polamalu for tackling and range and Ed Reed. He's a great leader and a ballhawk."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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