In confirming Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones was, indeed, an early entrant in the 2011 NFL Draft, CBS Sports’ Rob Rang, one of the best draft gurus around, took a look at the potential upside of Jones ahead of the draft. There was some confusion as to whether or not Jones had actually declared on Monday when the full list of players granted a special exemption — those that chose to forgo college eligibility — didn’t include his name. Jones is the definition of a sleeper right now, but could spring to life if his foot heals and he can put the concerns about his durability to rest.
As of now, Rang and CBS have Jones as a fifth-rounder. Though he’s in the bottom half of the draft right now, that could all change in the span of a few months.
Jones, a former cornerback, possesses a combination of speed and elusiveness that quite frankly is rare at the the FCS level. He is currently rated as a 5th round pick by NFLDraftScout.com, but if he can prove his health to scouts at the Combine, he could skyrocket up draft boards.
Jones’ health is a legitimate concern, however. In 2008, he broke his fibula. In 2009, it was a variety of injuries ranging from a hip flexor to an injured shoulder. Finally, in 2010, he broke his foot during the Eagles playoff run, missing the final two games of the season.
When healthy, there’s no doubt Jones has the potential a diamond in the rough for whichever team drafts him. If he can wow scouts with his athleticism, Jones has a chance to easily jump into the top-half of the draft and have an immediate impact in the NFL.