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Jones adds more speed to 2011 Raiders class

With their second pick in the fourth round, number 125 overall from a trade with the New Engand Patriots, the Raiders have selected RB Taiwan Jones from Eastern Washington. Jones is one of the most explosive offensive players in this draft. Was there ever any doubt that this halfback with the 4.3 speed at 6’0” 194 pounds was going to end up in Silver and Black?

Jones absolutely dominated the Division II competition at the college level and is a threat to hit a home run from any point on the field. In addition, he adds kickoff and punt return abilities on special teams. He is considered one of the sleepers of this draft and has been compared to Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs and Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans for his shifty abilities and ability to make the first contact miss on tackles.

Jones is surprisingly powerful for his size and he thinks in his mind that he is a first round caliber talent. He may be right about that. The Raiders, specifically running backs coach Kelly Skipper, have done extensive homework on Jones, and as I predicted in my Sleepers article as well as my final mock draft, Jones did not make it past the fourth round pick of the Oakland Raiders. Jones is a local kid from Anitoch, California. He went to Deer Valley High School and was the Contra Costa Player of the Year in 2007.

 The Raiders have their all-purpose versatile back – the number one guy if you will – with Darren McFadden. They have their power pounder that can get those short yardage situations converted for them with the 245 pound Michael Bush. Adding Jones gives them that third down back, that Darren Sproles type of scat back that can bust loose and hurt the defense any time he gets his hands on the ball.

Jones’ biggest issue is not using his blockers effectively. He has a tendency to get too gung-ho about flying past defenders and not using his vision to set up blocks that would essentially get him extra yards on a given play. He has the potential to add more bulk to his frame. He has tremendous acceleration and a knack for laying a hit on defenders and fighting for extra yardage.

More on the downside, Jones has a history of struggling with injury issues; he dances in the backfield too much at times, and doesn’t always see the available cut-back lanes on the field. He also struggles with pass protection, which isn’t surprising, and has a history of ball security issues. These issues are all things that can be ironed out at the next level, but Jones is certainly going to have to work if he wants to be a splashing success that he is capable of becoming.