Thomas Jones proved to be a steal last year, coming up with big numbers after a disappointing 2007 campaign. He finished with 1,312 rushing yards and a career-high 13 touchdowns.
That will likely cause some owners to make a stab for Jones as early as round two come draft day 2009, but don't be that person!
Here are a variety of factors that tell me you are better off letting someone else take the veteran at that point:
AGE—He will be 31 years old this season, and that is the age where running backs typically begin to see a significant dip in their production.
QB SITUATION—Say what you want to about Brett Favre, but his presence in the pocket forced opponents to respect the pass. That helped open up running lanes for Jones to go through. With Kellen Clemens and rookie Mark Sanchez likely to battle for snaps, look for defenses to stack the box.
COMPETITION FOR CARRIES—Leon Washington was already a factor last year as a change-of-pace back, and will get an increased look this season. Also, the team invested a draft pick in Shonn Greene, who appears to be the running back of the future. Many expect Greene to get a crack at some goalline carries, which would obviously hurt Jones’ chances of approaching last year’s touchdown total.
CONTRACT ISSUES—Jones is in the final year of his contract and had threatened to hold out. The Jets could still trade him and even if the don’t, if the season were to slip away the team would definitely less likely to keep atop the depth chart as it is unlikely they will re-sign him.
NEW REGIME—Rex Ryan takes over for Eric Mangini as the team’s head coach. Though they both are defensive-minded, run-first coaches, expect some changes to take place.
TELLING STAT—When Brett Favre’s arm injury popped up down the stretch of the season and the team’s passing game went south, so too did Jones’ numbers. Over the team’s last four contests in ‘08, Jones mustered just 224 yards on 57 carries (3.9 YPC) and two scores. With the quarterback situation a big question for the Jets, it’s not too tough to imagine similar struggles to start this season for Jones.
FINAL TAKE—After totally ripping Jones in this post, it’s hard for me to recommend him. However, I’m not saying he doesn’t have value. If he slides into round four and you already have a solid RB1, QB, and WR1 locked up, Jones may not be a bad option for a RB2 in deeper formats.
Even in Round Four as a RB2, I can still find a handful of other players with more upside that I would prefer. It doesn’t matter too much though as I don’t see him lasting that long in most drafts.