Felix Jones was drafted one pick before Rashard Mendenhall in the First Round of the 2008 NFL draft. He spent 5 years with the Cowboys before leaving in free agency for Philadelphia this year. Jones was at one point seen as their next great Dallas RB, but fell out of favor since regressing since the 2010 season, his best statistically to date.
Jones averaged 5.9 YPC in 2009, and 4.3 YPC in 2010, putting up 685 total rushing yards and 800 total rushing yards respectively in those seasons. Moreover, Jones was a receiving threat out of the backfield in Dallas, averaging 9.4 yards per reception on 48 catches in 2010.
Those are some of the pros, but what are the cons? First, there is a reason it took Jones until the middle of May to find a team this offseason. Jones fumbled 5 times in 12 games in an injury-shortened 2011 and watched his yards per reception average drop from 9.4 to 6.7 yards. 2012 was even worse, as Jones played all 16 games, yet only had 111 rushes and 25 catches for 3.6 and 10.5 yards per respectively. Even though Jones’ yards per catch returned to a great number, his targets when down, speaking to other concerns with his game.
SB Nation Eagles counterpart Bleeding Green Nation noted in multiple articles that Jones was possible among the first cuts of the offseason, and was a very long shot to even make the team. So why would the Steelers rid themselves of a promising young OLB for a running back they could sign in a week or two?
The positives are that throughout his career, Jones displayed some great speed, but was foremost considered a great blocker in his time with Dallas. This could be the main reason Jones was brought in by the Steelers. The woes of the offensive line, coupled with the lack of a strong blocking TE to start the season, could have caused a reactionary move wherein the Steelers brought reinforcements to protect Big Ben. Honestly, from what I’ve seen on tape in the recent past of Jones, coupled with comments on Bleeding Green Nation, there isn’t likely another explanation for this move.
An NFL-tested, solid blocking RB with some potential to catch passes is something the Steelers are currently lacking, and Jones has proven to be a capable rotational back, if not a three down player. This could be the whole reason he makes the team, and further calls into question whether Dwyer or Redman will be among those cut before opening night.
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