When the Jaguars drafted Matt Jones with the 21st overall pick in 2005, expectations were high that he would become the dynamic, deep threat playmaker that the team so desperately needed the years following the departures of Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith, and the wasted first round picks on fellow busts R. Jay Soward and Reggie Williams.
Jones was an unstoppable athlete at Arkansas during his years as the Razorbacks quarterback, shredding defenses with his strong arm and big plays running the ball. His combine performance was outstanding as well, and it was not hard to fall in love with the guy after he posted a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash along with a 10'10" measurement in the broad jump.
Jaguars fans did not easily embrace the selection of Jones in the first round in 2005, most likely because he had never worked as a receiver in college, and at a time when the Jaguars were so desperate to make a splash in the offseason, taking an unproven receiver in Jones only amounted to more questions being asked about the team's direction.
Perhaps what made his welcome in Jacksonville not-quite-so-welcoming is that VP of Player Personnel James Harris (who pulled the trigger on the Jones' selection) took the Arkansas alum over future stars such as Aaron Rodgers, Jason Campbell, Roddy White and Lofa Tatupu, just to name a few. It was simply too big of a draft year for the Jaguars to miss on their pick, right?
Jones, throughout four years, only amassed 2,100 receiving yards with 15 receiving touchdowns in his short-lived and disappointing career in Jacksonville. He complied 768 receiving yards in 2008, despite missing the final four games due to suspension for a cocaine bust in the prior offseason.
Jacksonville finally cut ties with Jones shortly before the 2009 season, due to his second arrest and another violation of the NFL substance abuse policy, this time for violating the terms of his parole due to his prior charge.
So what exactly did Jones do in the NFL after leaving sunny north Florida? The Bengals gave Jones a shot in the 2010 offseason and invited him to training camp to try to earn a shot at redemption despite all of his past troubles and headaches he caused the NFL.
Jones was simply not in shape and failed to keep up with the veteran wideouts to earn a starting spot, and the youngster Jordan Shipley had a breakout 2010 campaign after earning the place that Jones was vying for.
Jones entered the 2010 season unsigned and simply not worth the trouble for the 32 franchises in the NFL. His next opportunity would not come around until nearly midseason of the 2010 tilt, when the Redskins invited Jones to tryout for a team that was already thin at wide receiver. Jones would decline the invitation, and filed his retirement papers with the NFL shortly thereafter.
It truly is a sad story when looking at Jones' plight in the NFL. However, it is the ending of the story, which he wrote himself, that truly is unfortunate.
Jones had the talent, the drive and the opportunity when he was picked with the 21st pick in the first round to make a name for himself and become the playmaking the threat the Jags so desperately needed in 2005. Shortly after, he became the next bust among the many failures of Jaguars draft picks.