How T.J. Jones Fits with Detroit Lions

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How T.J. Jones Fits with Detroit Lions
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Just when we were starting to wonder if the Detroit Lions were ever going to address the wide receiver position, general manager Martin Mayhew pulled the trigger on T.J. Jones in the sixth round.

Jones doesn't have prototypical size for an NFL receiver at 5'11" and 188 pounds. His diminutive frame might cause concerns that he won't be able to handle the physical grind, but I couldn't find any missed time during his Notre Dame career.

What I did find, however, is a receiver who improved every season. He finished his senior season as Notre Dame's top receiver by racking up 70 catches for 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns.

How will Jones translate to the Lions? Let's check it out.

 

Where Jones Fits

Obviously, Jones doesn't have the frame to stand up on the outside. He only boasts a 33" vertical and lacks the bulk to battle ever-growing NFL cornerbacks.

That's not a problem though. The Lions are in desperate need of someone who can play the slot to leave Golden Tate to terrorize offenses on the outside where he is the most comfortable. 

Jones will be given a real shot at grabbing that spot in the receiving hierarchy. He gets the jump on incumbent Kevin Ogletree based on Jones' reliable hands. Ogletree dropped just under 10 percent of his targets, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and, at this point, the Lions can't count on Ryan Broyles to stay healthy. 

In addition, Jones flashed surprising speed at the combine with a 4.48 40-yard dash. If he can combine that speed with his solid route-running and ability to find the weak spots in a zone, he will play a needed and significant role in an offense that has the potential to rival any in football.

 

Final Analysis

There are concerns with Jones. Aside from the aforementioned injury concern, his small stature limits his catch radius. If Matthew Stafford continues to overthrow receivers as he has in the past, these two might not be able to get on the same page.

However, Jones fits a nuanced need and has the talent to handle the job. The value of a sixth-rounder providing a real contribution in his rookie year could be a huge advantage for Detroit heading into the 2014 season.

 

Brandon Alisoglu is a Detroit Lions featured columnist who has written about the Lions on multiple sites. He also co-hosts a Lions-centric podcast, Lions Central Radio. Yell at him on Twitter about how wrong he is @BrandonAlisoglu.

All combine statistics are courtesy of NFL.com. College statistics are sourced from sports-reference.com.

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