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Oakland Raiders Rookie Taiwan Jones Took the Road Less Traveled to Get to the NFL

Perhaps the Oakland Raiders most intriguing pick of the 2011 draft, speedy runningback Taiwan Jones sat down with Steve Corkran of the San Jose Mercury News last week and discussed the route he was forced to take on his way to being drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the 2011 draft.

Jones is a runningback out of Eastern Washington with breakaway speed that reminds many of Chris Johnson. Leading up to the 2011 Draft, there was much discussion over where the speedy runningback might land. By all means, he showed the talent and game breaking speed that teams love in runningbacks, but was hampered by the fact that he went to a school not quite known for its football program.

After being converted from cornerback, Jones racked up 2,955 yards and 29 rushing touchdowns, plus 8 more touchdowns through the air and on kick returns. With that kind of pruduction, it begged the question, why didn’t Jones end up in a bigger school’s football program.

In the candid interview, Jones reveals that his grades were not high enough for a division one team to offer him a scholarship despite his excellent high school career. After struggling with his studies in highschool, Jones was diagnosed with dyslexia as a senior at Deer Valley High. With the added help he received after being diagnosed, Jones was able to bring his GPA up enough to play at Eastern Washington.

Once given the opportunity to continue playing football, Jones did not disappoint. Jones’ runningback coach at Eastern Washington, Chris Hansen, remarked that he would likely never have another player of his caliber at the school ever again “We usually don’t get to touch players like Taiwan. They’re going to USC and Washington.”

When asked how he thought Jones would perform at the next level, Hansen told Corkran “He’s going to make those guys look stupid, too,” Hansen said. “When he gets into the secondary in the NFL, he’s also going to make those guys miss.”

Now, with the lockout looking like it is beginning to near an end, Jones will get the opportunity to show everyone in the NFL that his success at Eastern Washington had nothing to do with the caliber of his competition. If Jones ends up being able to successfully transition into the NFL game, the Raiders could be looking at having the most dominant rushing game in the entire league.