Scout's Notebook: WR Nate Jones

Rookie free agent Nate Jones is hoping to land a spot with the Vikings during training camp this summer. Find our more right here …

#13, Nate Jones, WR
(6006, 195, 4.41-4.63) Texas

Notes:  Born Nathan DeWayne Jones, 12/30/85, in Texarkana, Texas.  His father, Nathan Jones Sr., played linebacker and defensive back at Arkansas (1981-84), where he was coached by Vikings receivers coach George Stewart, who was a graduate assistant at the time.  Attended Texarkana High School, where he played football for head coach Barry Norton.  Two-way All-State performer and three-year starter at wide receiver; also played cornerback, free safety and some quarterback, helping his squad post a 35-5 record in his three seasons, including a state title as a junior.  Made 41 receptions for 700 yards and 8 touchdowns, while also rushing for 2 scores and grabbing 2 interceptions his senior season, leading the squad to a 13-1 record and a spot in the state semifinals that year.  Had 59 catches for 979 yards and 8 touchdowns with 2 rushing scores and 4 interceptions as a junior, as the team posted a 14-1 record and captured the Class 4A Division I State Championship that year.  Made 10 catches for 179 yards and threw a 50-yard touchdown in the state championship game in 2002.  Also recorded 51 catches for 759 yards and 5 touchdowns to go with 7 interceptions as a sophomore.  Added three letters in basketball and two in track-and-field.  Honor student with a 3.4 GPA out of high school.  Named to Who's Who Among American High School Students in 2003.  Was on the National Honor Roll from 2001-03.  Earned the National Outstanding Academic Achievement Award in 2002 and the President's Education Award in 2000.  Named to the National Society of High School Scholars in 2003 and the Outstanding Young Men of Texarkana.

College:  Played in 11 games (3 starts) as a freshman in 2004; caught 7 passes for 73 yards.  Saw action in 12 games as a backup in 2005; caught 9-67-1.  Played in all 13 games behind Limas Sweed (Steelers) in 2006; caught 3-153-3.  Almost redshirted in 2007 in hopes of getting more playing time and working with the younger receivers in 2008, but did not when Sweed suffered a wrist injury.  Became the favorite receiver of quarterback Matt McCoy as a senior and had a breakout season statistically with 70 catches for 795 yards and 5 touchdowns.  All-Big 12 Conference second-team choice by The NFL Draft Report.  His 70 catches tied Roy Williams (2003) for second on the school single-season record list and he caught at least four passes in 11 contests.  Only Roy Williams (12 in 2001) accomplished that feat in more games during a season for the Longhorns.  His 70 receptions in 2007 tied him for second on the school single-season record list, topped only by Kwame Cavil (100 in 1999).  His 99 receptions tied Lovell Pinkney (1992-94) for ninth on the school's career record chart.  He also recorded 4 special teams tackles during his college career.

Graduated in December 2007 (three-and-a-half years) with a degree in Youth and Community Studies and a minor in Business.  Jones was a first-team Academic All-Big 12 Conference performer and a three-time member of UT's Athletics Director's Honor Roll.  Active in UT's community service program, he volunteered time with Race for the Cure (cancer fundraising), Bring Hope Home (elderly) and the United Way Telethon.  He also served as a mentor for elementary school students.

Jones was not invited to the Scouting Combine but did post a 1.55 10-yard dash, 2.56 20-yard dash, 4.41 40-yard dash, 4.18 20-yard shuttle, 7.03 three-cone drill, 32-inch vertical jump and 9'5" broad jump during his campus workout prior to the draft.

Pro:  Signed by the Vikings as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2008 NFL Draft.

Positives:  Technically sound, a quick learner and student of the game.  Understands the offense.  Has above-average size and adequate speed.  Good hands, balance and body control.  Adjusts to the ball nicely and is consistent catching.  Adequate separation.  Good field vision and awareness.  Good short-area route runner who can find open areas in zone coverage.  Works effectively for yardage after the catch.  Good character and work ethic.

Negatives:  Simply does not stand out with his physical tools - size, speed, quickness, explosiveness.  Times okay but does not play particularly fast and lacks great suddenness.  Isn't a true deep threat.  Could use some work on his blocking skills.  Only has one season of productivity.

Summary:  Jones has the tools to be an effective West Coast Offense receiver, with nice size, good hands and above average run-after-the-catch ability.  However, he does not truly stand out in any regard and will face a crowded corps of competition in training camp.  Would really help his cause if he can contribute on kick coverage.

What they said:

"Overachiever, solid college player.  A possession receiver with limited speed, but at game's end did some good things that contributed to winning football games.  Usually the team's third option, but still his overall production was steady.  Lacks the deep speed.  Just don't see a lot of foot speed and/or a vertical burst.  After the catch showed no special run skills.  Needs to improve his get-off versus the jam.  Looked like an adequate free-agent prospect, but is likely to fall short of making it.  Priority free agent." - Tom Marino, Scout.com

"He has an outstanding work ethic and he's able to accept criticism from coaches.  He's always been a steady guy who was willing to play anywhere to get the job done.  He's a wonderful young man.  He always has a bright smile on his face.  He has the kind of personality that everyone likes.  He's very mature for his age.  He's got real good hands, and he's a polished route runner.  He's a smart young man and he understands the game." - Barry Norton, Jones' high school coach at Texarkana

Other links:
VU story
Pro day preview story
YouTube clip
Chron.com story

Archives:

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Scout's Notebook:  C John Sullivan
Scout's Notebook:  WR Jaymar Johnson

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