TJ Jones to go Undrafted? Is Mel Kiper Crazy?

TJ Jones - NFL Draft Stock
Abdul Smith (21) attempts to tackle Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver TJ Jones (7) in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 28-6. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Mel Kiper held a conference call with a number of Notre Dame media folks yesterday and in reading the stories from Blue & Gold and Comcast Sports Chicago, one thing jumped off the page at me.  Kiper is currently projecting TJ Jones as a late round pick if he gets draft at all.

Has Kiper been watching much Notre Dame football this season?  If he has, he would have seen a wide receiver who has been the lone consistent weapon on an offense that has struggled to maintain consistency.  He would have seen a wide receiver who can make plays downfield or take a quick hitch and turn it into a big gain.  He would have seen a wide receiver who has developed an extra gear this year we hadn’t seen before.

In short, Kiper would have seen a wide receiver whose resume and pedigree would warrant more than a late round pick whom it would be a travesty if he were to go undrafted.

A player’s draft position is not determined on their stats alone.  Production, potential, measureables, and off the field issues are all taken into account when a team evaluates a player’s pro prospects, so let’s take a look at those for Jones.

TJ Jones is producing at an elite level

Production is not an issue for Jones at all.  Through 10 games this season, Jones has racked up 891 yards on 54 catches with 8 touchdowns through the air.  Recently Jones has added a running element to his repertoire as well running 3 times for 41 yards and a touchdown in Notre Dame’s loss to Pitt last weekend.

If we project out Jones’s production over the course of three more games, he will end his senior season with 1,158 yards and 10 touchdowns.  Considering Jones has scored in 7 straight games and eclipsed 100 yards in three straight and 4 out of 5, it would not be surprising if he finished with numbers even better.

Not many receivers have put up numbers like that in their careers for Notre Dame and those who have done so have done so playing with quarterbacks selected pretty highly in the NFL draft themselves.

TJ Jones is still improving

Almost as important as Jones elite production as a senior has been his steady improvement and development since his freshman season showing that he is still improving and far from maxing out his potential. Each year that Jones has suited up for the Irish he has improved his performance.

  • 2010: 23 rec, 306 yards (13.3 yards/rec), 3 TDs
  • 2011: 38 rec, 366 yards (9.6 yards/rec), 3 TDs
  • 2012: 50 rec, 649 yards (13.0 yards/rec), 4 TDs
  • 2013: 54 rec, 891 yards (16.5 yards/rec), 8 TDs
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That is steady progression from freshman year to senior year with his best season by far coming this season proving that Jones is still improving and only getting better.  Furthermore, Jones has displayed a burst this year we just haven’t seen from him previously and his yards per catch backs that up with Jones averaging more than three additional yards per catch this season.

Jones’s size shouldn’t be a draft deterrent

While Jones may not have the massive size of the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson or be built like a Mac Truck like the Cincinnati Benagls’ AJ Green, Jones has a solid build at 6’0″, 195 lbs.  Eight wide receivers who were 6’0″ or under were drafted in the first four rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft so it’s not as though being 6’0″ or less has scared teams away from draft wide receivers in the first few rounds of the draft in recent years.

From a speed perspective, Jones will very likely run a more than respectable 40 time at the combine.  He probably won’t run a 4.34 like Tavon Austin last year, but something in the 4.45 range is very possible for Jones in Indianapolis in February.

Jones has been an exemplary player on and off the field

You will be hard pressed to find a wide receiver with a better reputation off the field than Jones in next April’s draft.  Jones has been an exemplary player on and off the field as evidenced by his captaincy for the 2013 Fighting Irish.

Jones has never had any off the field issues or run-ins with the law or anything like that either taking any potential character issues off the table as a reason for Jones not being draft or drafted late.  Any GM that makes an investment in Jones can do so knowing that he doesn’t have to worry about Jones getting in trouble off the field or causing any locker room.

Add that all up and it would appear, at least to me, that you have the draft profile of a pretty good wide receiver.  Jones has decent size, good speed, and is an excellent football player – he runs good routes, scores touchdowns, and has consistency made plays on an offense that at times has lack consistency.   Without running a 4.3 or being 6’4″ tall the first two rounds are probably off the board for him, but third round?  Why not?

Find me a wide receiver with a better profile than Jones available in the third round next April and I will be screaming for my Philadelphia Eagles to draft that player.  As is, I’d be thrilled to see Jones wearing a midnight green jersey catching passes in Chip Kelly’s offense after being selected in the third round next fall.

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64 comments

  1. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

    Stats and tidbits I did not know.

    BK could become first coach since Devine to win his first 4 senior day games.
    ND has only lost 3 fumbles this season, tied for 5th best in the country.
    ND ranks T4 in the nation for fewest sacks allowed.
    1 more win and BK becomes first ND coach ever to win at least 8 games in each of his first four seasons.
    ND has defeated 3 teams currently in the Top 25. No team in the nation has more.

    **** I did not include the negative stats, of which I’m sure there are plenty.

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    1. Shazamrock 6 years ago

      RB,

      The “tied for 4th for the fewest sacks allowed” is the most amazing stat.

      The possible 8 wins also deserves recognition seeing as how Kelly has only had 1 true duel threat QB to run his desired offense, and that was for just the one year.

      Good stuff!

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  2. SteelFanRob 6 years ago

    Agreed, Jack. This team is flawed. All teams have flaws, even Bama. But some teams are less flawed than others and know how to overcome their flaws and win nonetheless. Bottom line, Jack, since you seem to be a bottom line guy, is that ND hasn’t won a damned thing in over 20 years. Could have, should have, would have notwithstanding. I guess we should all throw ND a ticker tape parade for being 7-3.

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    1. Ron 6 years ago

      I hear you brother! We have really nothing to be proud of on the football field. Last year was good but we failed miserably at the end. Even a BCS bowl win would be nice but for 20 years we’ve been mediocre.

      Keep it up SFR, I’m with you 100%. Sorry if some people just don’t demand excellence.

      Notre Dame should always demand excellence. In the classroom and on the field. It’s just who we are!

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      1. SteelFanRob 6 years ago

        Thanks, Ron. I try but mediocrity seems to have become the norm for younger ND fans. They’re so excited by stats and playing at what if this or what if that. I guess I can’t really blame them. Crap is all they’ve known. Davie, Willingham, Weis. My God! What a bunch of losers! You see, Ron, I’m old enough to remember the end of Ara’s era. I recall Devine’s fine squads. Then things started going south with the hire of Faust. Lou momentarily righted the ship. But the Faust-like mediocrity returned with Davie and Co.

        ND used to be about winning NCs and Heismans. Today we have people on here talking proudly about moral victories. Are you kidding me?! F-ing moral victories at ND! Since when did the Irish become Northwestern or the service academies? I never thought I’d live to see the day that moral victories and ND would be uttered in the same breath. Moral victories was what other teams clung to after the Irish beat them by only a couple of TDs!

        Ron, this is what happens when people just become used to losing. They make excuses for it. Even the best loser is still nothing but a loser.

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      2. Ron 6 years ago

        absolutely! I hear ya! Damn shame.

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  3. Rich 6 years ago

    He may be a little crazy but as far as TJ going undrafted…that’s not going to happen. He has talent and a team that needs a sure-handed, fast receiver will undoubtedly pick him. Will he be a first rounder, of course not but second possibly. He is too productive to not draft. Go Irish!

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  4. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

    #ThankTommy

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  5. JC 6 years ago

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1852743-high-school-running-back-tony-picard-weighs-in-64-and-weighs-400-pounds?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=programming-national

    This will solve our running game, recruit this guy: High School running back Tony Picard is 6’4″ and weighs 400lbs and takes 5 guys to tackle him!

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    1. Storespook 6 years ago

      HOLY MOLY BATMAN! This guy is huge and he used to be an OL player. Get him in the weight room and see what can developed, especially as a continued RB. Go Tony

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      1. JC 6 years ago

        Hahaha! Stores, I say that is Mr. Picard! Yes sir we need him, reminds me of Frig!
        Hope those new helmets come soon, we are going to need them! No one will allow him to play RB in college, right??

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      2. jeff 6 years ago

        Wait till Diaco gets him in the weight room. Should be weighing in at about 520lbs by his junior year. Future looks bright.

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      3. JC 6 years ago

        Jeff,

        Just think, we could call him ND-Dozier! Think of all the fine art photograpy this kid could collect on royalties! Picture 5 guys being dragged into the end zone! What a photographic adventure every time this guy touches the football!

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