Damnit, Daniel Synder!
Why did you and your front office have to blow the cover on one of my favorite “late round / UDFA” running backs?
And by that I mean, going into the NFL Draft, running back Matt Jones carried a PlayTheDraft.com FRX rank of 301, meaning that almost nobody on planet earth spent more than ten minutes thinking about him this draft season. As such, I thought he might slip to the late rounds and be a low-cost, high-upside steal in dynasty. However, now that the cat is out of the bag, Redskins fans and dynasty GMs must take notice of Matt Jones. Here’s why…
Matt Jones is a Rare Athlete
There are basically three things I care about for running back athleticism: weight, speed and agility, as expressed by 3-cone performance. The following list, which is sorted by draft position, contains all players since 2001:
- Drafted in between the second- and fourth-round
- Weighing over 220 pounds
- Having a speed score over 100, which is considered to be average
- Having a 3-cone time under seven seconds
|Le'Veon Bell||Michigan State||48||230||4.60||6.75||102.7|
|Christine Michael||Texas A&M||62||220||4.54||6.69||103.6|
|David Johnson||Northern Iowa||86||224||4.50||6.82||109.3|
|Lorenzo Taliaferro||Coastal Carolina||138||229||4.58||6.88||104.1|
In the context of athletic attributes that I’ve found to be important, Matt Jones isn’t far off from Christine Michael, Deshaun Foster and Le’Veon Bell. I think the important takeaway is that the Redskins RB has a unique athletic profile and one that is on par with some successful NFL running backs.
Matt Jones was Productive (enough) in College
If we boil the athletically similar list down to a group of guys who had the most similar college careers in terms of age and production, we get this batch, sorted by career rush yards per game:
|PLAYER||SCHOOL||F Age||F RuYDS/G||F RecYDS/G||F APTD/G||Car RuYD/G|
|Christine Michael||Texas A&M||22.1||37.9||4.4||1.1||69.8|
In a way, this group feels fitting; they’re all tremendously talented players who have teased throughout their NFL careers, but never really delivered, at least not yet. The peculiar thing about Jones is that, unlike the rest of the group, he never had a monster season in college, with his peak rushing total being 817 yards in 11 games in 2014.
I don’t want to say that Matt Jones is going to be a home run in the NFL, but he certainly has my attention. His athleticism and draft position put him in a unique club and, while his production was underwhelming, just about everything from the final two years of the Will Muschamp era was underwhelming. Florida ranked as one of the worst Power-5 offenses in both 2013 and 2014, so I’m not sure how much blame I want to assign to Jones for his less-than-ideal output.
Now, consider that Alfred Morris is in the final year of his contract and the rest of the Redskins RB depth chart contains an undersized fifth-round pick and three undrafted free agents and I think it’s easy to imagine Jones being Washington’s starter in 2016.
Check out the video below and let me know if you think he’s worth more than the 46th pick in a dynasty rookie draft, which is where he went in the RotoViz pre-draft rookie mock.