First-Round Jones a Reach?

First-Round Jones a Reach?

FAYETTEVILLE — When the Jacksonville Jaguars took Matt Jones with the 21st pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the former Arkansas quarterback-turned-receiver's selection was met with mixed reviews.

But Jacksonville vice president of player personnel, James Harris, said the Jaguars know they drafted a playmaker. And that's all that mattered.

"When you see a playmaker, you have to try to go with it," Harris said Saturday. "Whoever we've taken, if we've taken the next guy, people are going to criticize that pick so we might as well take the criticism with a (4.37-second, 40-yard dash), 6-foot-6, 242 (pounds) guy that has dominated play wherever he's been."

Jones was formally introduced as a member of the Jaguars in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sunday, donning a hat and No. 18 jersey with "M. Jones" stitched onto the back.

The late first- to second-round projection was, arguably, the first round's biggest surprise when the Jaguars made him the fourth receiver drafted Saturday.

But Jones, who plans to contribute immediately, said he's determined to learn, improve and avoid becoming a first-round bust.

"I know (receiver is) a lot of want to," Jones said. "If you look at somebody like (former Nebraska quarterback) Eric Crouch, who came out and he wanted to stay at quarterback. He probably could've played receiver and played a different position somewhere because he was an athlete.

"You look at (Antwaan) Randle El, Drew Bennett, Hines Ward, they just want to help their team win and get on the field. If that's play receiver, that's what they were going to do and they were going to get good at it.

"I put myself in that boat instead of Eric Crouch."

There were plenty that disagreed after the draft, including Todd McShay of Scouts, Inc., who told ESPN that Jones was the worst pick of the first round and a "huge reach at No. 21." ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who rated Jones as a fifth-rounder earlier this winter, graded Jones as the biggest reach in the first round.

Paul Attner of The Sporting News also believed that Jones would've, and should've, been around later in the draft.

"This was way too early in the draft to be doing projections with choices, not when there were other solid athletes on the board," Attner wrote.

Jones, who was regarded as the draft's best athlete, knows there will be "bumps in the road" during his transition from quarterback to receiver. The biggest, he said, is getting into "basketball shape" to handle the running it takes to play receiver.

But the Jaguars said there were other teams that coveted the receiver because of his potential Saturday. Harris fielded calls from some interested in trading up to select Jones, but wouldn't reveal which ones.

"I heard that Philadelphia called Jacksonville and offered three different trades," Jones said. "That just shows the confidence that Jacksonville has in me already that they drafted me when other teams were offering trades."

Jones said he was glad it was Jacksonville, which was the first team to conduct a private workout with him after the NFL scouting combine.

So were the Jaguars, who are confident the 2005 NFL Draft's biggest surprise will become one of its most exciting playmakers.

"We've added a playmaking-type receiver," Harris said. "We like our receivers, but the level we were in the first round, the type of player that we were passing is the kind of player ... You just don't pass those types of players."

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