Taiwan Jones Could Have an Opportunity to Breakout in 2013

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 20, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Taiwan Jones #22 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by Tom Johnson #96 of the New Orleans Saints at O.co Coliseum on November 18, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders drafted Taiwan Jones in the middle rounds of the 2011 NFL draft to be a backup running back—he had the 40 time of a track star which appealed to Al Davis.

In his first two years in the NFL, Jones has rarely gotten on the field, amassing only 22 carries for 94 yards as well as four career receptions for 36 yards.

Jones has had issues with ball security, but he has also been stuck behind Darren McFadden, Michael Bush (for 2011), Marcel Reece and Mike Goodson on the depth chart since entering the NFL.

The third year could be the charm for Jones to start making a name for himself.

Looking at the players ahead of Jones on the depth chart, there a lot of questions and uncertainties—for instance, McFadden's contract and injury history, Goodson being an unrestricted free agent and Reece primarily being the Raiders' starting fullback.  

Because of the restrictions the Raiders have in terms of draft picks and salary cap space, they could lose Goodson in free agency and not have a spare draft pick to use on a running back.

If Goodson leaves town, Reece stays at fullback and the Raiders can't find the cap space to go out and sign someone like Brandon Jacobs—or can't find a spare draft pick to use on offense rather than fixing the defense—then Jones would be right behind McFadden on the depth chart.

In this scenario, coupled with McFadden's injury history, Jones could get a lot of carries in 2013 as he spells McFadden more than usual to keep him healthy.

Also, with McFadden being in a contract year, the Raiders may use the same strategy that they did with their quarterbacks at the end of 2012.

With Carson Palmer getting old and being paid a lot of money, the Raiders gave Terrelle Pryor a look to see what they had in him as the possible quarterback of the future.  Similar to Pryor getting his start at San Diego because of an injury to Palmer, there's a good chance Jones will have to start for an injured McFadden.  Just like with Pryor, the Raiders would be wise to see what Jones can do.

There's also a chance that the Raiders won't keep McFadden after this season and let him walk away as a free agent—in this case, it would be wise to get a good look at Jones now to see if he could step up in McFadden's possible absence in 2014.

Jones' upside is that he is just as fast, if not faster, than McFadden—the Raiders wouldn't lose their big-play threat out of the backfield.  In fact, they could be raising their big-play threat out of the backfield with Jones' speed.

Jones could be given the opportunity to shine in 2013 if all goes according to this article during the offseason.  All Jones would have to do is take advantage of his increased playing time.