Tuesday, May 15, 2007

He May Have Hands Like a Carny and Weep Like a Baby, But Jacoby Jones is The Type of Player You Want On Your Team

That's the rarely seen SIAC Offensive Player of The Year Trophy Ladies and Gents. And holding the trophy is Jacoby Jones wearing the even more rare blazer and ribbed t-shirt combo.

I love Wikipedia:
"The highly insular nature of carny society has fostered popular suspicions of inbreeding, supposedly manifested by a tendency towards small hands or thumbs."
As mentioned previously, there are several things that trouble me about the way in which players are evaluated and subsequently drafted by NFL teams. I've never really understood why chronic ne'er-do-wells like Mike Williams and Jerry Porter are selected ahead of guys with similar skill sets (similar in that these secondary players are big and can also run fast and jump high) despite the fact that these ne'er-do-wells have never tried hard in their entire lives because the game has come so easy to them. And then when they get to the NFL and they aren't coddled any longer and success requires a little more than just being a couple inches taller or a tenth of a second faster than everybody else, they fail because they don't have the discipline or drive to do what's required to become great. Not every great college player can have the discipline and drive of a guy like Larry Fitzgerald. Meanwhile you've got big, fast and strong guys from lesser schools who just want a shot. They're working out 3 times a day leading up to the draft just to have the chance to make a team. And when these guys get the chance to join a team, they stay after practice and take in every word and suggestion their position coach lays on them. Which brings me to my guy here, Jacoby Jones.

Jones played his college ball at Division II Lane College. And despite playing in the relative anonymity of D2 ball, he was invited to the East-West shrine game where he spent a week wowing the scouts with his 6'3" 210lb frame, sub 4.5 speed and ability to make tough catches before leading all receivers in the game with 4 receptions for 59 yards. Jones performance took on added significance after last season's top performer in the Shrine Game, Marques Colston, went on take offensive Rookie of The Year honors in the NFL last year. Despite this success, Jones was rated as a mid to late round pick and about the 15th-20th best receiver in the draft. The small school status was only one of the factors deflating Jones's draft status. He was also born with Carny hands ("They're complaining about my hand size," Jones said. "I have pretty small hands, I can't even palm a girls' basketball, but I can catch a football and that's all that should matter, right?"). So when he received the call from Texans GM Rick Smith, he can be forgiven if he was a little overwhelmed by the moment: "When I saw the 832 number come up when I opened my phone and when he said it was Mr. Smith, tears just started running out of my eyes. I just said, 'When do you want me there? I'm there." (When Jarrett got his call, his agent probably said, "We want first round money."). It's Jones's last statement that to me is why I would want a guy like Jones on my team. He still feels like he needs to prove himself. He's a third round pick and is almost guaranteed to make the team but he doesn't have that mindset. He's an underdog and will play like one probably for the bulk of his career. Not only is it endearing to the fans that the guy actually gives a shit, but it's a level of motivation and hunger that a player who's always been more talented than everyone else can't possibly understand or draw from. It is the absence of these relatively tangible qualities on the draft day cheat sheet that always leaves me scratching my head when 3 years down the road the more talented lazy player is cut because he's being outperformed by Wes Welker and the GM is just dumbfounded as to why his first round guy didn't pan out. Hunger and work ethic should be listed next to 40 time and vertical rather than be an throw-in quote from the guy's high school coach in an article written 4 weeks after the draft to fill copy.

Now Jacoby Jones may may never become great or even good because hard work and good technique can only take you so far, but if player is even close in terms of measurable skills, I'll take shots on 10 Jacoby Jones's before I take one Dwayne Jarrett.

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