Former backup running back Taiwan Jones is looking like an NFL cornerback so far at Oakland Raiders training camp in Napa. The hometown kid has become a favorite of the Raider Nation even though he has not seen the field nearly enough.
During the 2011 draft, Reggie McKenzie actually had Jones pegged as a cornerback not a running back when he was in the Green Bay Packers draft room. Jones had all the intangibles of a NFL caliber cornerback with his good size, great speed, and NBA-like vertical (6’0, 4.33 40-yard dash, 39 ½ inch vertical). Jones was actually recruited as a cornerback at Eastern Washington and started four games on defense in 2008. The next two years Jones started at running back after Eastern Washington lost their running backs. Jones prior history at corner back can help him during his transition this offseason.
Jones has proven to be an excellent open field tackler during his two years in silver and black. He has been one of the Raiders star special teams players as his lightning speed is an asset to stop returners. When Jones was asked to switch to cornerback this year, many thought that this was the beginning of the end, of the short Jones tenure. However, the switch to cornerback has resurrected his young career. Although Jones has been inconsistent at camp, he has also shown he has the nose for the ball by having plenty of interceptions. With the additions of DJ Hayden, Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter, the Raiders don’t necessarily need Jones to play many snaps at cornerback this year. Jones is essentially in his rookie year again and if he continues to show improvement, he is a lock to make the 53 man roster.
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