What to Expect From RB Aaron Jones in Year 1
It’s been years since the attention of a football team and its fans wasn’t squarely on running back Aaron Jones.
Jones dominated Conference USA as a running back for the University of Texas – El Paso (UTEP) for four years, finishing his college career with over 4,000 rushing yards.
"He's got something you can't teach,” said quarterback Jameill Showers, who transferred to UTEP in 2014 after three years at Texas A&M. “Sometimes you look at somebody and say, 'That's a football player.' That's him. I've told my dad this [Showers' father is a head high school football coach], if he had gone to my high school, he'd be at [Texas] A&M or Texas or OU. He's a different type of athlete."
Now, Jones joins the Packers and their suddenly crowded backfield. What can we expect from the fifth round rookie running back?
Jon says: Catching passes out of the shotgun
I agree with Gary’s assessment below; Jones can run well out of the shotgun and that’s something the Packers definitely love from their backs. But I think any carries the Packers get from Jones out of shotgun (or anywhere else) are actually more of an added benefit than a main feature. I think Jones’ real value is as a pass catcher.
Running routes out of the backfield is an unusual skill set. A player not only has to execute all the things typically expected from someone running a pass route, but they also have to do it while running laterally at least part of the time.
Almost every route out of the backfield starts with some kind of sideways movement, and even professional athletes sometimes struggle to get all their limbs working in sequence well enough to pull off such a move.
Jones is not one of those players, though. He is extraordinarily adept at getting open out of the backfield. Check out the clip below for a taste of Jones’ abilities, taking special note of his skill at routes more traditionally reserved for receivers. Even Ty Montgomery, a former wide receiver, may not run routes quite that well.
Gary says: Jones can run out of the shotgun, and the Packers need that
If you’re one to get caught in a YouTube spiral of football clips, you’ll quickly realize something about Aaron Jones. In college, his quarterback was almost exclusively lined up in the shotgun or pistol formation.
The Packers lined up in the shotgun or pistol 62% of the time last season, and 87% of third down snaps were from the shotgun or pistol. Jones was one of the most productive running backs in the nation last season running out of the shotgun.
Jones excels at a skill that the Packers running backs haven’t necessarily been good at in recent years. Only Ty Montgomery and Brandon Jackson averaged over five yards per carry out of the shotgun formation in the past eight years:
I expect the Packers to use Jones in the shotgun, and I expect Jones to have success. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Jones finish the season second on the team in rushing, even over fellow rookie Jamaal Williams.