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Taking a position

Readers question why Matt Jones can't play QB

Posted: Tuesday April 5, 2005 10:56AM; Updated: Tuesday April 5, 2005 2:23PM
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Matt Jones, a quarterback at Arkansas, is considered a WR and TE prospect in the NFL.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Before I get to your mail, let me offer a shameless plug for an event this Friday in Boston. I'll be appearing at a Tufts University-sponsored sports media panel from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at The Fours, rated by SI as the No. 1 sports bar in America. Daughter Laura, a senior Jumbo, is planning it, so you can be sure there will be some fun involved, and perhaps some information, too, about how to get a job in this business. You can find out more at: http://www.tufts.edu/alumni/c-chapter(boston11).html. I can guarantee but one thing about the evening: I'll be answering some Patriots questions.

On with your mail:

WHY CAN'T MATT JONES PLAY QUARTERBACK? From Kwame of Queens, N.Y.: "If Arkansas' Matt Jones is so good, how come he isn't projected as a quarterback? I mean, think about it. Mike Vick came from an option offense in college and barely clears 6-feet and he wasn't asked to change positions. (Rightfully so.) If Jones is the best athlete in the draft, why not play him at the most important position and the one he played in college?''

Great, great point, Kwame. When I've asked scouts about Jones, they've questioned his arm strength and accuracy (55 percent for his career) and wondered why, if he was such a great thrower, did he attempt 20 passes or more in a game only 12 times in his career at Arkansas. Still, Jones seems like the kind of prospect who, with good coaching, could be a superior threat back there. But now that everyone has seen him at wideout (and perhaps at tight end) in the postseason, I think that's where he'll be pigeon-holed. Not that this is a bad thing. He's probably going to go no later than the second round, and he could sneak into the first. He'd never be picked that high as a quarterback.

THEY'RE NOT BEING SHOWN THE MONEY. From Joe Wachs of Indianapolis: "Given the recent difficulties of high-profile veterans such as Ty Law, Edgerrin James, Shaun Alexander, Travis Henry, Trevor Pryce, etc., to land 'acceptable' long-term contracts with NFL team, is it probable that: 1) This will spark another negative backlash from the NFLPA in the next round of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is already hitting some bumps? Or 2) This will result in a shift in the pendulum of control toward the owners of teams who are refusing to be forced into high-dollar contracts? I would like to believe that this is a sign of the changing times and that the brakes will be put on excessive player salary demands, but I don't feel that will be the case.''

To me, each player you mention has an asterisk next to him. If Law had been healthy entering this offseason, he'd have been snapped up in the first week of free agency for $7 million a year. He still isn't recovered from foot surgery, he's overweight and he can't sprint right now. Pryce has been hurt. And, one of the big reasons they're not getting any action is a glutted market. With three studs available at the top of the draft, who wants to pay an Alexander $7 million a year when you can get a good back (and there is a history of getting guys such as Curtis Martin down the line in the draft) in the middle rounds or in low-cost free agency? But you have a good point. The NFLPA does not like clubs using the franchise tag to try to generate trades from other teams.