Aaron Jones has been a Packer since he first started playing football at the age of 5.
His Youth City League team in El Paso, TX were the Packers and, while he grew up an unfortunate Cowboys fan, becoming a Packer again is a great way for this Running Back’s story to go full circle. Now, it’s a matter of staying on the team and carving out a role in what is suddenly a crowded Green Bay backfield.
Jones is a 5’9”, 208 lbs. back from the University of Texas-El Paso where he became the Miners’ all-time leading rusher with 4,114 yards in 4 seasons (including one season that only lasted 2 games). He didn’t have a lot of scholarship offers coming out of high school, but part of his decision to stay in El Paso was to continue playing with his twin brother, Alvin, who’s a linebacker for the Miners.
On tape, Jones looks like an athletic weapon out of the backfield. He has great hands and is a more capable receiver than simply catching dump offs out of the backfield. It’s easy to see Jones being able to slide in on plays that Ty Montgomery needs off and have the offense not miss a beat.
His combine 40 time was a 4.56, but the game film shows that Jones is an example of running fast with pads on. Jones has the ability to see angles through the line and once he gets to the second level, he has shown an ability to get away from safeties. Linebackers are faster and more athletic in the NFL, but he should still be a match-up issue. The numbers also support his good movement and big play ability. His three-cone drill was an impressive 6.82 seconds and during his final UTEP season he had 8-games with 40+ yard runs.
Did I mention that Jones was 4th last season in the FBS in yards? Ahead of early-round picks like Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook. Yes, those two players played in the Pac-12 and ACC, respectively, but the Conference-USA has produced some fairly talented backs in the past including Chris Johnson and DeAngelo Williams.
At the NFL level, Jones’ best comparison might be Kenneth Dixon in Baltimore (another CUSA alum out of Louisiana Tech). Dixon’s size (5’10”, 215 lbs.) is relatively similar to Jones and the combine measures are eerily analogous:
In an abbreviated season for Dixon, he managed to average 4.3 yards per carry and 5.4 yards per catch in 12 appearances, 0 starts. He was poised for a big load this season before a meniscus tear this off-season derailed those plans. John Harbaugh offered up that Dixon has the potential to be a “top back in the league.” Does Jones have the same potential?
Everybody say it with me together now: THE PACKERS NEED A RUNNING GAME.
Rodgers is the greatest, but the offense needs balance.
Who was Green Bay’s last back that defenses truly had to gameplan for? Ahman Green? Eddie Lacy was good for two or so seasons, but now his contracts are in the sad Weight Loss Bonus club where memberships are usually reserved for D-Tackles. Ryan Grant was decently average, I guess.
After they selected the 5th-rounder, Packers director of personnel Eliot Wolf was quoted as saying: “I think he ran 4.51, but that was a little surprising. We thought he played faster than that. He was a guy who could consistently beat the angle of the safety. He had a lot of long runs for UTEP.” Translation: they believe this kid could be a home run hitter.
At the very least, there’s a strong chance the Packers can catch lightning in a bottle with Ty Montgomery or Aaron Jones or even Jamaal Williams, whose pass protection skills have been a positive so far in camp.
However, Jones may have the strongest role to play in making this a formidable rushing attack.