March 27, 2011
Most performance facilities are tasked with making slow people faster for speed and explosion drills like the 40-yard dash (though some people are clearly beyond help), but here's a slightly tougher question: How do you make a person who already blasts out of the gates unusually quickly, and take him to an even higher level?
That was the question for Brent Callaway to answer in the person of Eastern Washington University running back Taiwan Jones, who has legitimate 4.3 speed (speed which transfers to the field, as well). Callaway, the Performance Manager at Athletes Performance, has worked with some of the real speedsters in the NFL and the pre-draft ranks. We recently shot video of him working with Jones on returning to form after a foot injury prevented Jones from working out at the combine.
Teams looking to select a home-run hitter in the Chris Johnson or Jamaal Charles(notes) mold will be traveling to Jones' pro day in the Bay Area in Mid-April, because he does have that type of speed. Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com has watched a lot more EWU film that I have, so I asked him what makes Jones so special.
"Jones has true three-tier speed," Rang told me. "He has an explosive burst vertically and laterally, as well as the acceleration to get to the second level of the defense. Once in the open field, his dynamic long speed takes over, making it tough for trailing defenders to get a proper angle on him. Questions about his level of competition and durability are fair. But there is no denying his suddenness and speed. Jones is the most dynamic open field runner in this draft."
And as Rang pointed out on his own blog after seeing the video below, the 10-yard splits in the 1.4-second range that Jones has been running would put him ahead of any other draft prospect in the 2011 class.
Here's what Jones looks like right now.
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