In the weeks leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft (April 26-27), BR.com will offer a look into the top prospects by position. This week, running backs are up. Arkansas' Felix Jones is spotlighted.
Felix Jones proves that you don't have to be a featured back to warrant a high-round grade in the NFL Draft.
In fact, even though he was a backup to the much-hyped Darren McFadden at Arkansas, many pundits are questioning which former Razorback is the better ball carrier.
Where McFadden is more of the bruising, physical back, Jones is more likely to squirt his 5-foot-10, 207-pound frame through opposing defenses like a waterbug.
It was a talent Jones used to make a name for himself on the Arkansas' roster as a freshman, where he received All-American votes for his ability returning kicks. That year, he finished second in the nation with a 31.9-yard kickoff return average, posting 543 yards and one score on 17 returns.
"Kickoff returning is something I enjoy doing," he said. "It is a position that's good to have in the NFL. I just have fun with it."
Jones never relinquished his special teams duties throughout his career, going on to become the SEC's Special Teams Player of the Year in 2007.
But where the Tulsa, Okla. native really blossomed was in the backfield.
Jones began to get more touches as a sophomore, where his penchant for big plays stood out. While McFadden was racking up the starts, Jones provided another spark to Arkansas' potent offense.
In 2006, Jones totaled 1,168 yards and six touchdowns on 154 carries (7.6-yard average). The following season, he averaged 8.7 yards per rush after he took only 133 attempts for 1,162 yards and 11 scores.
By that time, the demarcation between starter and backup - between McFadden and Jones - was all but erased.
Now, Jones is hoping to become a full-time starter at the next level without his long-time running mate.
"I look forward to creating a name for myself," he said. "At the same time, I did kind of like it, because we were a tandem."
At the NFL Combine, where he ran an impressive 4.44 40-yard dash, Jones made a case for himself to potential suitors.
"I'm a great running back. I have great vision. I have very good body control. I make great moves. I'm also a kickoff return specialist," explained the 20-year-old. "I have been a feature back in high school. I never did have the chance to be in college because of me and Darren, but I believe I have the attributes to be a great NFL running back."
While McFadden is likely to be selected within the first 10 picks, Jones won't be too far behind.
And wherever he goes, it shouldn't take long for Jones to make an impact, even if he only has a few carries to do it.