Thursday, April 21, 2011

Player Profile #38: Felix Jones

Felix Jones
Position: Running Back
Size: 5'10, 215
Age: 24, 5/8/87
Drafted: 2008: Round 1, Pick 22
Experience: 3 seasons

Salary History and Contract Status - 7/25/2008: Signed a five-year, $10.525 million contract. The deal contains $7.665 million guaranteed, including a $3.57 million signing bonus. 2011: $1,023,750, 2012: $1.17 million, 2013: Free Agent

2008 Draft Profile From Felix Jones - 5'10/207 - 4.47 (40 time) - Junior Entry. Started eleven games over three years, splitting time and sharing the backfield with Darren McFadden. A darter that runs the speed sweep after handoffs from McFadden. Bender/weaver type runner with rare lateral quickness. Quick cuts on sweep. Elusive. Stays on his feet. Can make the first defender miss in space. Presses the hole when he runs north and south. Gets his big yardage on gadget plays (reverse off of option). Catches the ball in his hands. Gives a good effort to block. A downhill runner that can make speed cuts out of the one back set. Rare quickness. Instinctive runner with vision and balance. Explosive out of the one back set. Can hit the crease at full speed. Excellent initial quickness. Question whether he can be a feature back because of size, but will be an excellent complimentary back. Has the speed to outrun the angles. Plays gunner on the punt team. He can make an open field tackle. Additionally has four kickoff returns for touchdowns in his career. Has 39 career catches for 383 yards and 3 touchdowns. Durability is unknown because he has never been a feature back and has fringe size. First/Second Round

Pre-2010: The Felix Jones story is one that every fan has an opinion about. Whether it was draft day of 2008 that gets people fired up or the way he has been used since, Felix represents a thumbnail of the entire organization under Wade Phillips: "Never reached potential". Not that he hasn't been good, but when the Cowboys selected him in front of Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, the bar was going to be to their standards. Seldom does an entire draft class all hit in the same year, but the 2008 RB class sure seems to be rather star-studded. Aside from Jonathan Stewart and Darren McFadden, the Cowboys had their pick of the litter. And yet, they took the unconventional approach of projecting a player who had never started or had been given a significant workload. The cynic would even wonder if Mendenhall was from Arkansas (Jerry Jones alma mater) and Felix was from Illinois, would the Cowboys have taken Mendenhall? Regardless, Jones flashed early in his rookie season with an unforgettable kickoff return in Week 2 against the Eagles and a 60-yard screen pass TD in Week 3 against the Packers, but then missed the final 10 games due to an injury and then another injury during his rehab. In 2009, he was part of the rotation at RB (Marion Barber played 552 snaps, Tashard Choice 281 snaps, and Felix Jones 271), but still was just a complimentary figure in the offense. Only 135 touches in 14 games for less than 900 total yards was just not enough to quiet comparisons with those others the Cowboys could have had in the '08 draft.

2010: In 2010, it was clear Jerry Jones had enough about the use or lack thereof of Felix Jones. Almost immediately, the concerns about Felix (durability, effectiveness in 3rd Down/2 min drill) were put on the back burner and he was inserted more and more into every portion of the game. His snap count shot through the roof, with the RB snaps reaching 571, Barber 292, and Choice 220. He played in all 16 games and demonstrated that if given a little help from the offensive line, he should be a more than useful #1 RB for the offense. As Jason Garrett tinkered with the offense more and more, it became rather clear that one of the best ways to use Felix with an offensive line that is struggling is in the passing game. 800 yards of rushing was supplemented by 450 yards receiving and you could see how 1,250 total yards could grow into 1,400 or so in the near future. His ability to diagnose and pick up blitzes in the Cowboys "11" personnel proved to be up to par as he surrendered just 1 sack (Desmond Bishop, Green Bay). He did not set the NFL on fire in 2010, but if you are a Cowboys fan who was worried about him, I would think much of that concern was quieted in 2010 by his ability to demonstrate durability and then flash his pass catching that was previously not utilized.

2011 Analysis: Running Back is one of the more dependent positions in a sport where many positions depend on teammates to "do their job". The Cowboys offensive line has not been very efficient at running the football recently. In 2009, there were times it showed dominance, but as predicted by Football Prospectus, the Cowboys OL looked like it grew old simultaneously in 2010. This showed up most prominently in the running game where the Cowboys experienced very few Sundays where the running game was even a threat. In fact, the demoralizing results early in games was enough to scrap the entire idea. I don't believe that had much to do with Felix. Moving forward, understand that he may never be a 20-carry man in the NFL, but in the Jason Garrett offense, a 12-carry, 4-catch guy is more the desired variety - and for that Felix Jones fits the description quite well. He turns 24 years old this spring and because of his low work-load in college should have plenty of tread on his tires moving forward. I remain optimistic about his future and count him as one of the foundation pieces that the team is building upon for the next several seasons. If he can be a 900-yard rusher with 500 yards receiving in 2011 for 1,400+ total yards (Michael Turner had 1456, Mendenhall 1440 in 2010), then the Cowboys will be pretty pleased. But it starts with fixing your OL.

Previous Profiles:

Miles Austin

Marion Barber - New 4/17

Alex Barron

Martellus Bennett

Stephen Bowen

Josh Brent - new 3/30

Keith Brooking

Dez Bryant

Victor Butler

Marc Colombo

Phil Costa

Leonard Davis

Doug Free

Andre Gurode

Montrae Holland

Jesse Holley

Sam Hurd

Bradie James

Mike Jenkins - New 4/5

Kyle Kosier

Sean Lee

Bryan McCann - New 4/12

Terence Newman- New 4/4

Kevin Ogletree

Igor Olshansky

John Phillips

Jay Ratliff - New 3/28

Orlando Scandrick - 4/8

Marcus Spears

Anthony Spencer

DeMarcus Ware

Brandon Williams

Leon Williams

Roy Williams

Jason Witten

Sam Young

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