Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Case Against Felix Jones

Every Mock Draft and its brother have told me that Felix the Cat will be in Dallas on Saturday at his "welcome to Dallas" press conference.

First off, allow me to say that I clearly am not against drafting Felix Jones. I think he could help this team in 2008 and beyond. That isn’t the question. The question is “SHOULD the Cowboys select Felix Jones?” And, my answer to that is “No”. He doesn't fit the need this team has.

He can do many things well. According to Scouts, Inc, among them are:

Strengths: Versatile back with world-class speed. Exceptional when he can get the ball in space. Displays rare initial burst through the line of scrimmage and around the corner as an outside runner. Is elusive in space and displays an elite second-gear to run away from most defenders. Does not have a lot of tread on his tires. An unselfish player that proved he will put the team before himself in college. Finds different ways to contribute and could be best suited for a multi-purpose role in the NFL. Displays very soft hands as a receiver out of the backfield. Will adjust to ht poorly thrown ball. Runs sharp routes and is instinctive in that regard. A homerun threat after the catch. Will get in good position and give a solid effort as a blocker. Should also provide excellent value as a return specialist in the NFL. He showcases his rare second-gear with his 82-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter of the 2007 Kentucky game. It was a classic example of one cut and gone .

Jones’ famous Kentucky Kickoff Return

Love it. Let’s get him, right?

Wait, there are a few negatives to consider:

Weaknesses: Has always split carries at collegiate level. Can he carry the full load in the NFL? Has the frame to get bigger but needs to prove capable of putting on weight (and keeping it on) without taking away from his exceptional burst, which is what makes him special. Lacks power as a runner. Is not big or strong enough to push the pile in short-yardage situations. Is not a sharp-cutter; more of a glider. Can get undercut rather easily at times in space. Takes too many chances bouncing runs outside because he can outrun everyone at college level but will need to be more decisive versus faster defenses in the NFL. Will get in position as a blocker but lacks sand in his saddle to hold ground versus bigger blitzing linebackers.

And, Scouts, Inc, put it nicely. From many different reports, Felix is not a 3rd down back. Very similar, I might add to the idea that Julius Jones is not a 3rd down back – for the same reason, blitz pickup. Catching the ball is a small part of 3rd down, far more importantly, 3rd down for a RB means taking on a LB in the pocket, and buying your QB another half-second.

As you will recall, MB3 was not given the “Start” until the playoff game against the Giants. The day after, I wrote this:

• And while we second guess, why would you change your lineup now? Isn’t that what the last couple games were for? Shouldn’t you have figured out Barber was better than Jones back in October, and then you are building his stamina the final weeks, and therefore he doesn’t look exhausted in your biggest game of the season. To make him the starter was an obvious move, but when you do it when all the chips are in the middle, you better hope it works. After all of those carries early, Barber had nothing left in the 2nd half.

I was referencing the sacks that doomed the Cowboys, and the even more dooming idea of leaving Jason Witten in to block on the last play of the season, rather than send him in a route, because they couldn’t count on any of their RBs to pick up a blitz or to help on the Giants DEs.

SO, my conclusion all along has been this: If you are going with 2 RBs, and you believe Barber is the primary back (as your contract offer to him would indicate), then the other guy MUST be able to be trusted to help on Michael Strahan on 3rd and long. If he cannot, then he is not the guy for the job.

All of the other stuff is gravy. I like the breakaway speed. I like the kickoff returns. But, he MUST be able to keep Romo from being creamed when the game is on the line, and the OL is gassed. Otherwise, you are back to where you were in January, with Barber trying to play 60 snaps, and totally dead at crunch time.

While I am at it, I am a bit tired of people comparing every kickoff return guy in this draft to Devin Hester. Devin Hester holds these records:

League Records
Most touchdowns returns in a season - (6) (2006, 2007)
Most touchdowns kick and punt returns in a season - (6) (2007)
Most touchdown returns as a rookie (6) - (2006)
Most touchdown returns in one game (2)** -

Franchise Records
Most regular season kick and punt returns (11)
Most kickoff return yards in a game (225 yards)
Most punt return yards in a game (152 yards)
Most punt return yards in a season (651 yards)
Longest play (108 yards)* -

When a guy holds 4 All-Time NFL records in his first two years, it is because there are not 4 guys like him EVER! So, I want people to stop with telling me that Felix Jones, Chris Johnson, DeSean Jackson, and Leodis McKelvin are all “just like Devin Hester”. I understand this is a copy-cat league, but if you are looking for your “Devin Hester”, you might as well try to draft your “Reggie White, Jerry Rice, and Joe Montana” while you are at it.

Anyway, back to #22 and #28, I think I am set on Cornerback at #22. I am totally fine with a number of them, with Aqib Talib most appealing to me (although Jordy Nelson lighting him up is tough for me to ignore – not that Nelson is not quality, but that Talib couldn’t stop it).

Aside from Talib, there appear to be a few other options at CB – with Mike Jenkins actually the Cowboys preference from what I hear, and Antoine Cason continues to get mentioned. Even with the Pac Man trade, you cannot count on that knucklehead keeping eligible, so you still need a CB.

As for #28, I think you then take the best WR left (unless it is surprisingly picked over). Of this group, I would jump at James Hardy, DeSean Jackson (although his weight must be considered), and I would not even be scared to take Malcolm Kelly. I realize he is a bit slow, but he can play. We have all seen that. I think I would grab him if my scouts agree.

By the way, all of that goes out the window if Jonathan Stewart is available at #22. I would grab him in a heart-beat. His toe injury doesn't bother me, his strength is awesome, his speed is great for his size, and you can play him on 3rd down. Then, to fill the need for a burner, go get someone on Day 2 who is "just a speed guy" as your 3rd option in the backfield. You need 2 RBs anyway.

And all of that goes out the window, if Jerry’s master plan is to trade up to #4 and get Darren McFadden for #22, #28, and a tad more.

I was looking at how many of the top rushers were actually 1st round picks. Here is what I found:

Here are the top 20 rushers in the NFL from 2007:

1 LaDain Tomlinson SD RB 315 19.7 1,474 4.7
2 Adrian Peterson MIN RB 238 17.0 1,341 5.6
3 Brian Westbrook PHI RB 278 18.5 1,333 4.8
4 Willie Parker PIT RB 321 21.4 1,316 4.1
5 Jamal Lewis CLE RB 298 19.9 1,304 4.4
6 Clinton Portis WAS RB 325 20.3 1,262 3.9
7 Edgerrin James ARI RB 324 20.2 1,222 3.8
8 Willis McGahee BAL RB 294 19.6 1,207 4.1
9 Fred Taylor JAC RB 223 14.9 1,202 5.4
10 Thomas Jones NYJ RB 310 19.4 1,119 3.6
11 Marshawn Lynch BUF RB 280 21.5 1,115 4.0
12 LenDale White TEN RB 303 18.9 1,110 3.7
13 Frank Gore SF RB 260 17.3 1,102 4.2
14 Joseph Addai IND RB 261 17.4 1,072 4.1
15 Justin Fargas OAK RB 222 15.9 1,009 4.5
15 Brandon Jacobs NYG RB 202 18.4 1,009 5.0
17 Steven Jackson STL RB 237 19.8 1,002 4.2
18 Marion Barber DAL RB 204 12.8 975 4.8
19 Ryan Grant GB RB 188 12.5 956 5.1
20 Earnest Graham TB RB 222 14.8 898 4.0

10 - 1st round picks
2 – 2nd round picks (Portis, White)
3 – 3rd round picks (Westbrook, Fargas, Gore)
2 - 4th round picks (Jacobs, Barber)
3 – undrafted free agents (Parker, Grant, Graham)

Of the 20 top Running Backs in 2007, 10 were taken in the first round, and 10 were not.

Here is some Felix Jones email:

Ok then, you should go back and watch some film and see how well he blocks. Was he as good as Dmac [blocking] no, but he was very serviceable. Additionally, he is the duel threat since he is a KR. Besides, what is this BS about how many times he can carry the ball – isn’t the whole point to pick up a change of pace back? That and Jonathan Stewart is just another MBIII [potentially]. Felix is every bit the dynamic back that Faulk was (and no, not saying he is or will be as good) but in terms of style he is. He’s big enough, certainly fast enough and has field vision like Emmitt, he’s patient and waits for holes but has the breakaway speed that Emmitt never had.


I find your appraisal incredibly optimistic. I am not a scout, but with several scout type reviews of the guy who indicate he cannot blitz pick-up in the college game, why would I not believe them? Surely, you like him, and his game, but even the most optimistic of the draft gurus call him a change of pace guy. Not a guy who is “the man”. - Bob


Just because Felix Jones was behind Darren McFadden does not mean he can't be an elite back. Barry Sanders had to wait until Thurman Thomas left OSU-and he was ok.

In Felix's senior season in high school he ran for 2,282 yds on 205 carries. 11.1 per carry (pretty good)

Felix Jones is 6'-0", 207 lbs
Darren McFadden 6'-2", 215 lbs

Emmit Smith was 5' 9, 209 lbs

Mike D.

I am 6'3/220. What does that mean?

Further, I was a 18 points 12 rebounds guy in high school. I don't think it equates to the pros. - Bob

The guy ranks 2nd All Time in the NCAA for yards per carry at 7.66. Let us not forget that was done in the SEC. He even topped Bo Jackson’s career YPC.

In any event he is good, very good. As for those scouts you talked about – are any of them the same that said Dmac falls on contact, or that he was nothing more than a breakaway guy like Mayock?

Can I also point out that his biggest games in 2007 were (in order):

South Carolina
North Texas

If he was lighting up LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee, wouldn't it be a bit different? I could make the case his yards per carry were certainly padded. - Bob

And now, some links:

A few days after I decided I have no further use for Pac Man, the Cowboys decide to go for it

Jerry Jones has taken plenty of risks as a businessman and owner and general manager of the Cowboys.

He is taking another one in Adam "Pacman" Jones.

On Wednesday, the Cowboys agreed in principle with the Tennessee Titans to trade for the suspended cornerback and are in the process of completing a new four-year contract for Pacman Jones that includes no guaranteed money.

According to sources, the Cowboys will give up a fourth-round pick in this weekend's draft (No. 126 overall), plus a sixth-round pick in 2009 should he not have any off-field troubles this season.

If he is not reinstated by the NFL, Tennessee would return a fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft to the Cowboys. The Cowboys could receive a fifth-round pick from the Titans should he be suspended after a reinstatement.

Pacman Jones will not repay the $1.25 million performance bonus he earned in 2005. He has agreed to make a $500,000 donation to a charity of the Titans' choice within the next two years.

The Cowboys and Titans confirmed they had reached an agreement on the trade but had no further comment.

"I'm excited for Adam," said Manny Arora, Pacman Jones' lawyer. "The contract isn't official until we set pen on paper. We don't want to get too excited, because a lot of things need to happen."

"He's a great player and growing as a person," said former Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders, who said he would like to serve as a mentor for him. "He will take Dallas' secondary to an entirely different level with his playmaking ability on defense and return game. I can't wait to work with him."

Interesting Gosselin Chat Items ….

baylorbear82: What are the chances the Cowboys trade their 22 and something else for Lions WR Roy Williams?

Rick Gosselin: If the Cowboys want Williams, it will probably cost them 22 and 28. No. 22 straight up won't get it done, nor will 28 straight up. But the two 1s isn't going to happen. I think Jerry Jones learned his lesson from the Joey Galloway trade that two 1s is an expensive price to pay for any wide receiver. Detroit views Williams as a guy who would be the lead receiver of the Cowboys by 2009 or 2010. Terrell Owens isn't getting any younger. Don't look for the Lions to just give him away because the Cowboys want him. And, please, don't talk about including the other Roy Williams and/or Bobby Carpenter in the package. Everyone wants draft picks, not someone else's discards. The Chiefs just traded a Pro Bowl pass rusher (Jared Allen) for three premium draft picks. Talk picks – high picks – if you want to deal.
• • •

From e-mail: How do the Cowboys view RB Jamaal Charles? If you look at his numbers, they are comparable with Darren McFadden over a three-year period. He's faster than Felix Jones and shows a lot more power than people give him credit for. Is it possible that the Cowboys could take a WR/CB with the 22nd pick and take Charles at No. 28?

Rick Gosselin: OK, running backs. Darren McFadden is the clear-cut best ball carrier on the board because of his combination of size and speed. Remember, the draft is about measurables. McFadden is 6-1, 211. Charles is 5-11, 200. McFadden is bigger, faster and stronger. There's about a round difference between the two on most NFL draft boards. There's also a fumble concern with Charles. I think the value on the board at 22 will be a running back. Felix Jones is that value because he also is an elite kick returner. If the Cowboys wait on the back until 28, Charles and Chris Johnson could come into play.

Jamaal Charles update

Three hectic months after announcing he would skip senior season at Texas for the NFL draft, Jamaal Charles has pretty much done all he could possibly do to enhance his value. He impressed scouts with his pass catching ability at a skills competition in Arizona, ran a 4.38 40 at the NFL combine in Indianapolis and has gotten high marks across the board in the increasingly important area of character.

Slowly but steadily, as NFL personnel types have studied tape and observed, the stock of Port Arthur's all-time leading schoolboy rusher has climbed. Only three backs — Arkansas' Darren McFadden, Oregon's Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois — are locks to be taken before him on Saturday.

After that, there's divided opinion on whether Jamaal, Felix Jones of Arkansas or Chris Johnson of East Carolina will be the next back taken. Most projections have him going in the first half of the second round, although there are those who think he could slip into the first round.

"I put him between 31 and 40, with an arrow pointing up, saying he could wind up in the 21-to-30 area," said former Dallas Cowboys talent guru Gil Brandt of "If you went strictly on the fourth quarter of the Nebraska game, he'd be the first pick out of the box.

"He's got really good running skills and the way he can catch the ball coming out of the backfield is going to cause a lot of problems for defenses. I think he's going to be a good player at this level."

Charles, for his part, knows it's now out of his hands. On the Saturday that will be the biggest day of his young life, he'll be at home to watch the draft with family. He says he's won't start getting too excited until the first round reaches its latter stages.

"It would be great to be taken in the first round," he said by phone from Austin, "but it's probably going to be early in the second. Several teams have told me they really like me, but you never know what is going to happen. I've heard a lot of wild stories about the draft."

Among the teams who have shown the most interest are Dallas, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Baltimore, Detroit and Chicago. Jamaal, who spent last Friday at Valley Ranch with the Cowboys, said he'd love to wind up in Dallas.

"It couldn't be much better than to play high school, college and pro football in the state of Texas," he said. "My family and friends could come to the games, like they did at Texas. And I'd be going to a good team.

"I had a good visit with Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones. I talked with Wade for a long time. Since he's from Port Neches, it was like I already knew him. One of their scouts told me he was really pushing for me. I think it could be Dallas, Tampa Bay or Tennessee."

A look at the Area guys


A look at where high-profile players from Big 12 schools are projected by NFL scouts to be drafted:

Aqib Talib, Kansas, CB
Limas Sweed, Texas, WR

Jamaal Charles, Texas, RB
Curtis Lofton, Oklahoma, LB
Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M, TE
Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma, WR
Anthony Collins, Kansas, OT
Reggie Smith, Oklahoma, CB

Jordy Nelson, Kansas State, WR
Red Bryant, Texas A&M, DT
Carl Nicks, Nebraska, OT

Jermichael Finley, Texas, TE
Tony Hills, Texas, OT
Will Franklin, Missouri, WR
Jordon Dizon, Colorado, LB
Martin Rucker, Missouri, TE
Allen Patrick, Oklahoma, RB
Chris Harrington, Texas A&M, DE
Ahtyba Rubin, Iowa State, DT
Frank Okam, Texas, DT
Marcus Griffin, Texas, FS
D.J. Wolfe, Oklahoma, SS

After a celebration for cutting the lead to 16 on Tuesday, Mavs keep a brave face

Down 2-0, the Mavericks are trying their best to remain calm. Home cooking is what they need and, in their defense, that 34-7 home record was tied for second-best in the Western Conference this season.

That may be the only reason for them to remain confident, but it is nevertheless a reason. Asked if the team was suffering from self-doubt, Terry said, "Not at all. Not knowing this is a building where we have great success. I think we got a lot of fight left in us."

Avery Johnson got the Mavericks back on the practice court Wednesday and saw a focused group. The workout was light. A tougher session is scheduled for today. But the mood was enough to ease Johnson's concerns about his team.

"The guys are not happy with the way they've played," he said. "They came in, and I saw some angry looks. But I hope we take that disappointment and control the anger into practice tomorrow and then take it out on our opponents.

"Where we are right now is nobody's fault but ours. It's not the referees. We can't complain when we don't get calls. We just have to be tough-minded and physical."
Johnson has ears and eyes. That means he's heard and read the speculation that his job is on the line if the Mavericks don't dig out of this hole.

That doesn't faze Johnson, who has a 22-22 playoff record.

"It all starts with me," he said. "Whenever something goes wrong, if we're not making free throws, if we're not making layups, it's not the players. It's me.
"We don't want to give up on anything we've done yet. I know a lot of people are counting us out. The same people who picked us to win the series, by the way. I just hope they make up their minds.

"When we were down there in New Orleans, the president was in town, and they blocked off a lot of streets. We've got to block off some of their streets."

The Mavericks actually had a voice from afar telling them that this series hasn't even started yet. A win Friday in Game 3 would change things dramatically, said TNT analyst Charles Barkley.

"I don't think you panic when you lose the first two on the road," Barkley said. "You're not going to come back from [three games down], so you've got to make sure you win Game 3. Then you say we've got to win Game 4, and then the pressure switches back to New Orleans. You can't panic, you've go to keep your confidence up."

Meanwhile, you let the Hornets sit around for a couple of days and mull the fact that nobody on their roster was in the league the last time the franchise won in Dallas.

To which, Tyson Chandler has one thing to say: "This year, we stopped a whole lot of

Tonight, I must write my Stars-Sharks preview for Dallas - Until then, Here is a recap of the regular season deadlock

Here's how the series between the teams went:

• Oct. 29 - Sharks 4, Stars 2 in Dallas. Trailing as the third period began, San Jose won on Setoguchi's two goals, each set up perfectly by center Joe Thornton.

• Nov. 7 - Stars 3, Sharks 1 at HP Pavilion. His two goals made Dallas center Mike Modano the all-time points leader among U.S.-born skaters with 1,233. Modano finished the regular season with 1,283.

• Nov. 14 - Sharks 4, Stars 3 in a shootout at Dallas. The Sharks couldn't hold on to a 3-1 lead on goals by Setoguchi, Torrey Mitchell and Patrick Marleau. But Setoguchi and Marleau came through in the shootout to give the Sharks the win. Goalie Evgeni Nabokov came up big in the shootout, stopping Sergei Zubov and Jussi Jokinen.

• Dec. 5 - Sharks 3, Stars 2 in Dallas. This one had the pass for the ages, a behind-the-back, sneak-a-peek, cross-ice toss of the puck from Thornton along the boards to Marleau just outside the crease. Marleau redirected it past Stars goalie Marty Turco and it showed up on highlight reels that night and beyond.

• Dec. 15 - Stars 4, Sharks 2 at HP Pavilion. Costly penalties made the difference as Dallas scored twice on the power play to capture the victory on a night when both teams played with "playoff-like intensity," according to Thornton.

• Jan. 17 - Stars 4, Sharks 2 at HP Pavilion. The Sharks had a chance to vault past the Stars into first place in the Pacific Division but came up flat. Two third-period goals gave Dallas its sixth consecutive win in San Jose.

• March 27 - Sharks 3, Stars 2 in overtime at HP Pavilion. This time it was San Jose's turn for a comeback. Thornton tied the score early in the third period, then won the game at 2:58 into overtime. The victory clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

• April 6 - Stars 4, Sharks 2 in Dallas. This was the penalty-filled game that had its first fight six minutes into the first period, then went downhill when Thornton took exception to a hit on Milan Michalek by Stars agitator Steve Ott and started wailing away. Somewhere along the way, a 2-0 Sharks lead disappeared.

Interested in any documentary featuring the NBA and Adam Yauch

Some of college basketball's brightest stars, including Kansas State's Michael Beasley and UCLA's Kevin Love, are featured in Beastie Boy Adam Yauch's new documentary, "Gunnin' for That No. 1 Spot."

And while it's less than two years since he followed the then-high school players for a week, he still can't get over how much they've changed.

"They already look different, and I think it will be really interesting to look at this doc five or 10 years from now and see these guys when they were high school students. There's a good chance that several of them may be superstars in the NBA," Yauch told The Associated Press in an interview this week. "They were like babies in this picture."

Yauch took his camera to Harlem's famed Rucker Park, made famous by streetballers, in September 2006 to document some of the nation's top high school talent, who were playing in an event there.

Yauch said he was struck by how the players — who also included Jerryd Bayless of Arizona, Donte Green of Syracuse and Kyle Singler of Duke — could act like kids one minute, yet live in such an adult world.

"They have this infrastructure around them, and they are being groomed for stardom," he said.

"When I was in high school I wasn't getting the quantity of media that these guys are," he said. "But it's not necessarily a bad thing."

Yauch, 43, said the documentary, which premieres April 28 at the Tribeca Film Festival, doesn't make a judgment on the world where the precocious teens lived, but does give viewers a glimpse into it. He added: "The people around these kids really do care about them."

"Gunnin' for That No. 1 Spot" is slated for wide release June 27.

Another email:

Sports Sturm,

In response to me in a previous email you mentioned how you thought it was unfair that everyone seems to forget about all of Dirk's past accomplishments just because of the Golden State series. But as we turn the table, isn't that exactly what you and a lot of others are doing with Avery? Are we supposed to forget that he coached his team to the stinking NBA Finals? And the next year he coaches his team to 67 wins and we're supposed to forget about that also? I cannot in any way defend Avery for this team's performance in Game 2 last night. But please explain your logic and how you feel justified in running Avery out of town in just his third full year, but you are oh so patient with Dirk. And yes I agree last night in Game 2, Dirk had no help from the supporting cast, but I can make the argument that the supporting cast bears the mood of their leader.

So let's run Avery out of town so we can start working on yet the THIRD coach of Dirk's career. Don Nelson's gone. Avery's gone. If they go on to lose this series with the Hornets many of the supporting cast will be gone. Steve Nash is gone. Michael Finley is gone. So after all of these different players and coaches have come and gone, next year only one common piece will remain - Dirk. Now think about the promo we hear played on the ticket these days with your comments about the Mavs problems and maybe Dirk isn't it. Could it be the other way around? Year after year they continue to fail and he would be the only thing that HAS NOT changed. Have you ever thought about it? - As Grubes chimes in right on time with that Drop.

Cedar Hill

isn't the difference that there are 40 NBA Coaches every year (assuming 10 get fired), and there is 1 NBA MVP every year?

The point being, it is easier to find another coach rather than finding another league MVP.

Avery is far more expendable. Kind of like Romo vs. Wade- who gets the blame there do you think? - Bob

HBO is Dead, sniff…



Jay said...

I just hope we don't draft another Julius Jones. I feel like we're in that same situation again. Felix looks nice, you kind of killed my buzz Sturm. I live in Little Rock so all I've heard is what a great tandem Felix and McFadden were. I don't suppose he'd have to pick up that many blitzes. In the 4th quarter it would be mostly Barber who hopefully wouldn't be gassed bc Felix would have taken his share of carries earlier in the game. Anyways Jonathon Stewart sounds good too. All of the RBs available sound good to me I just hope the one we grab pans out.

Lance said...

I'd rather see the Cowboys pick up somebody like Jamaal Charles in the second round myself. At least he had his biggest games against Nebraska, Okie State, Texas Tech, and Arizona State. That's certainly better competition than Chattanooga, UNT and Troy.

Tony said...

Nice blogging Bob, you earned your money today!


KingmanIII said...


Don't look at just his yardage totals; in Arkansas' four games against Auburn and LSU in 2005 and 2006, Jones rushed for 369 yards on 44 carries (8.4 yards per carry). Jones also rushed for 48 yards on just 7 carries (7 ypc) against USC in 2006.

Conversely, Jamaal Charles' 290-yard performance against Nebraska last October was his only his second-ever 100-yard game against a BCS-conference opponent and his first since he ran for 116 yards on 9 carries against Oklahoma two years earlier. In fact, Charles' only 100-yard game in 2006 came against Rice (8 carries, 109 yards).