Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

Jones could lead way


His potential for being one of the most popular players in Jaguars history is undeniable. All he has to do is make the kinds of plays the Jaguars envisioned when they made Matt Jones the team's first pick of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Jones charmed members of the media Sunday afternoon in a press conference that addressed burning issues such as the length of Jones' blond hair and his love of hunting and fishing. He was as pleasant as he is tall.

Welcome to Jacksonville, kid. And, oh, how Jacksonville is going to welcome you if you turn out to be as good a player as everybody hopes.

"I love to hunt and fish. Me and my pops went turkey hunting the other day and I'm going to go again Tuesday when I get back. I bass fish all the time. Bass fishing is probably the thing I'd like to do if I could choose one thing to do," Jones said.

Soon, his time will be spent learning how to become a wide receiver. His days of playing quarterback are over. Beginning at next weekend's mini-camp, Jones will officially make the move from star college quarterback to NFL wide receiver.

"A quarterback who's a four-year starter knows a lot about the game. He brings a lot of things other guys don't bring. They can read the defenses quickly. A guy playing quarterback has an advantage doing that. Guys with ability can make that adjustment (to wide receiver)," Jaguars personnel director James Harris said.

The Steelers' Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El made the transition. Drew Bennett did it in Tennessee, where Bennett's position coach was Steve Walters, who is now the Jaguars' wide receiver coach and the guy who will attempt to effect the same transformation in Jones.

All of that is just ahead. Sunday, as he stood in front of the media and calmly answered all of the media's questions, Jones was a 6-6 study in what Jaguars fans hope will become one of the league's premier attractions. He has the personality for it. Does he have the talent?

"We don't feel there's any way he won't be able to make plays in this league," said Harris, who selected Jones over Oklahoma wide receiver Mark Clayton. Baltimore nabbed Clayton with the next pick.

It will be an unforgettable draft moment. The Jaguars were confronted with the choice of Jones, who had never played the wide receiver position prior to this past winter's Senior Bowl, or Clayton, considered to be the most polished wide receiver in the draft.

The decision came down to 6-6, 242 pounds vs. 5-10, 193 pounds. Both players ran similar 40 times at the scouting combine, and both are great athletes. The Jaguars chose Jones because they believe he has greater upside.

"We like Clayton. The upside of (Jones') play-making ability, his size, his speed; this is a rare type of guy," Harris said.

Jones is the centerpiece of the Jaguars' draft class. You could say that about all first-round picks, but it applies more to Jones than other first-round picks for some very distinct reasons.

  • There is an element of risk involved in Jones' move to wide receiver.
  • Jones is an intriguing player who has the kind of star potential that could put the Jaguars over the top and into the playoffs.
  • His personality will sell tickets in a town where seats are being covered.

"She actually wants me to cut it," Jones said of his girlfriend's opinion of his long hair.

Don't cut it, kid. Stay just the way you are. You'll see why.

"When I was in high school, I thought I was going to play in the NFL and in the NBA," Jones said. He played, of course, on the basketball team at Arkansas.

What about a nickname? What do they call you back in Van Buren, Ark., which Jones described as a town of about 20,000 people near Fort Smith, which he said is near Oklahoma?

"Some of my friends call me 'Slim,'" he said.


In Jacksonville, they're going to call him anything he wants, if he can play. That's the big question. Can he make the move to wide receiver?

There isn't as much suspense with the remainder of the Jaguars' draft class. In nearly every case, beginning with second-round pick Khalif Barnes, the Jaguars addressed need. They claim to have done so, however, without leaving the order of their draft rankings.

Barnes might've been the Jaguars' first-round pick, had the Jaguars been able to trade into a lower spot; say, a trade with the Jets to number 26 overall, which had been discussed. Clearly, Barnes is a major value at number 52 overall.

Third-rounder Scott Starks is small in stature but will add top speed to the defense. He will battle for the starting right cornerback job, but Starks is expected to contribute mostly in substitution defenses.

In the fourth round, the Jaguars got the running back they need, as star runner Fred Taylor recovers from offseason knee surgery. Virginia's Alvin Pearman is an accomplished back.

Fifth-round safety Gerald Sensabaugh turned in a record-setting vertical jump of 46 inches at the scouting combine. Sensabaugh is a top athlete whose career was slowed by a transfer to North Carolina after East Tennessee dropped football. Sensabaugh offers major upside and for that reason he was the one player in this Jaguars draft class who does not directly address need.

Sixth-rounders Chad Owens and Pat Thomas go directly to need. Owens has big-time kick-return skills; the Jaguars have big-time need. Thomas is a tackling machine that could challenge for playing time at a position whose performance declined in the second half of last season.

Seventh-round cornerback Chris Roberson is all about speed.

There it is, the Jaguars' 2005 draft class. Will it put this team over the top?

"I thought we were real close (to making the playoffs) last year and that we would make it last year. We should expect the next step with our quarterback developing. We should expect this team to take the next step. It's time to get to work," Del Rio said.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content