Not Quite Ready for Prime Time: Green Bay Packers Wideout James Jones

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 Not Quite Ready for Prime Time: Green Bay Packers Wideout James Jones
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Who will fill the enormous shoes of the 12-year Green Bay Packers veteran wide receiver, Donald Driver?

This is the question everyone has been asking throughout Packer Nation. The next Driver needs to have character and loyalty to Packer Nation, along with the on-field abilities to make jaw-dropping plays.

So, is James Jones ready? If Driver left today, could the 2007 NFL Draft third-round pick Jones step up to the plate?

Jones grew up in San Jose, Calif., a Gunderson High School Grizzly. He ran track, played basketball, and was the star quarterback on the Grizzly football team.

Every one of the 800 or so students at Gunderson High received a Mac Book Pro in 2009, so I’m going to guess there is a good bit of money to be spent around there.

Let’s be serious, a school isn’t going to give a hoodlum a free laptop, so I think Jones’ character should be solid coming out of high school, and is one that has stuck with him since arriving in the NFL.

The fact that Jones played football throughout high school as the “star” quarterback shows that he should have a strong knowledge of the game.

Jones played three years of good football at San Jose State, where he flew under the radar until his senior year. That's when something happened.

In 2006, Jones made his name with 70 receptions for 893 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Jones helped lead San Jose to the New Mexico Bowl, where he caught seven passes for 106 yards, and two touchdowns. This earned him the game's offensive MVP honor, along with a second team All-WAC selection, and an invite to the NFL combine.

At the combine, Jones shined as the strongest wide receiver there, and in the draft.

Jones tied the combine's wide receiver bench-press record in 2007, with 22 reps at 225 pounds. He ran a 4.54 40-yard dash with a vertical jump of 34.

In comparison to the NFL Pro Day held about three weeks later, everything was the same, however, his broad jump increased seven inches from 9’11” to 10’6”. I’d say this is an impressive result coming into the draft.

So in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Jones.

In 2007, Jones was looking at a similar schedule to this years.

That year, Jones made his NFL debut in the Packers' season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he didn’t get his first taste of an NFL end zone until Week Four, when he caught a Brett Favre pass against the Minnesota Vikings.

In 2008, Jones was inactive for five weeks with a sprained knee. So with 10 games played with only two starts on the season, it showed that Jones needed to be healthy, or it's not going to work out in Green Bay. With only 20 receptions and 274 yards, it looked as though maybe Jones wasn’t the guy, placing sixth on the team.

On Dec. 14, 2008, in Jacksonville, Fla., and at the prime of his health during the season, Jones racked up 132 yards including receptions of 46, 40, and 34 yards. This included a highlight reel-worthy juggling catch, while keeping his feet inbounds, and battling against safety Reggie Nelson for 40 yards.

Last season, Jones was back to full health, but he  didn’t maintain a starting position over vets Driver and Greg Jennings. Jones started just three games, and posted 32 receptions for 440 yards. He tied for second on the team with five touchdown receptions.

One game where Jones came to play last season was against Tampa Bay. In the opening drive, QB Aaron Rodgers dropped a bomb to Jones that allowed him to break free for a 74-yard touchdown pass. The last time something similar happened, was when Favre connected with Antonio Freeman for an 80-yard TD in 1998.

In the playoffs, Jones he showed that he can be consistent on long plays in shoot-out situations. He posted only three catches in the Packers' Wild Card game against the Arizona Cardinals, with an average of 16.7 yards, and a total of 50 yards. He made a late game “spinning catch," similar to what Jennings did against Pittsburgh, and took the ball from the 25 in for a 30-yard touchdown.

Now let's analyze all of this info for a second.

The question is weather or not Jones could fill the shoes of Driver if he had to tomorrow. Though this is an extremely promising resume, one would have to say no.

The injuries and inconsistency Jones showed in the 2008 season is the main reason for doubting him.

Driver doesn’t miss a beat. If he does miss a beat, he still plays amazing football when he is on the field. Jones had a chance to show us this same attribute, and did not. In two out of his three seasons as a member of the Green Bay Packers, Jones has looked to be just waiting to blossom.

Jones has shown the flashes of greatness that the Packers need from him, but he needs to be more consistent.

If Jones makes  much of an impact on the 2010 season as he did last year, then I will feel much more comfortable than I do right now with him taking the field as the team's No. 2 wide receiver.

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