When it came time to decide his future after high school, UTEP RB Aaron Jones was searching for an opportunity to play alongside his twin brother Alvin. Offers were hard to come by, but the pair ultimately found a situation in UTEP that made sense for the both of them. Fast forward to today and UTEP certainly doesn’t regret that decision as Aaron leaves the program for the NFL after racking up more than 4,000 rush yards. In this exclusive interview with Draft Breakdown, Aaron details his versatile skill-set (which I’ve included some video analysis of) and two very, very strange questions he was faced with at the combine. Enjoy.
Thanks for joining me today Aaron.
Jones: Thank you for having me.
You decided to attend UTEP because they were willing to take your twin brother Alvin as well. 4,000 rush yards later, how do you look back on that process? Was it difficult to find a school that would take on the both of you?
Jones: It’s a decision that I’m very happy with. I got the chance to play as a true freshmen, and also had the opportunity to play alongside my brother. UTEP was the only school that gave us the opportunity to play together.
Have you always been close with your twin brother? Do you have any other siblings?
Jones: We have another older brother and an older sister as well. Me and my twin brother have always been close though. We’re always competing against each other. My household was a lot of fun growing up.
How would you describe your skill-set?
Jones: I think that I possess really good hands. I run behind my offensive line with good vision and balance.
Jones certainly displays good hands on tape. This is an impressive catch down-field while running a vertical route out of the back-field. Arkansas LB Josh Williams takes one step too many downhill while covering Jones, and he’s never able to recover as Jones flashes good speed as a route runner.
What goes through your head when the QB hands off the ball to you?
Jones: What I do, I read the defense, the down linemen up to the linebackers. I look at how my offensive line is blocking, but of course most of the time I know how they’re gonna’ block it based on the play-call. I meet with them and with my coaches a lot, I do a lot of studying. It’s kinda’ easy once you know how they’re gonna’ block it.
Even the tiniest of lanes opened up by his offensive line is enough for Jones to break off an impressive run.
Good hands were the first thing you said when I asked about your skill-set. The game tape shows that you’re a great pass catcher with 71 career catches at UTEP. Meeting with teams at the combine, did anyone ask you about playing WR?
Jones: They actually asked me to stick around after I finished my workouts as part of the running backs group. They had a couple of us stay after and run routes as a receiver.
Jones shows off the ability to plant-and-go as a route runner. He can also pick up chunks of yardage after the catch.
So you did go through some receiver drills. How many teams would you say that you met with at the combine?
Jones: I had eight official meetings at the combine. Unofficially, probably around 20.
That’s a lot of teams showing interest. Do you have any upcoming visits or private workouts lined up?
Jones: I worked out for the New Orleans Saints. I’ve also worked out with the Cowboys, Eagles and the 49ers.
Some good landing spots there. Which running backs did you admire growing up? Any in particular that you model your game after?
Jones: Growing up, I was a big fan of Marshall Faulk and Emmitt Smith. Both of those guys were well-rounded running backs. I liked how tough both of those guys were. They were tougher than their size indicated. Marshall, he could do it all, he was a great receiving back as well.
In a few of my interviews, I’ve been told about some strange combine experiences, from getting into staring contests to complicated math problems. Did you have anything that caught you off guard?
Jones: I was asked if I was a cat or a dog. That was really it.
Like, which one you prefer for a pet?
Jones: No, if I could choose to be a cat or a dog, which one would I pick.
That’s pretty strange. How did you answer?
Jones: I said a dog, but thinking back on it, I probably should have picked a cat. If you really think about it, a lion is actually a cat.
They didn’t tell you why they asked that? They just wanted to know if you were a cat or a dog?
Jones: Yes sir. I was also asked if I was green or blue.
What do you think that means?
Jones: I said green because green means go. I know that blue kinda’ represents a bad mood so I went with green. Green means go and I’m always ready to go.
Green definitely means go once Jones hits the open-field. Here, he shows off impressive breakaway speed as he’s able to outrun the secondary for this 50+ yard touchdown.
Two very strange questions. You had some injuries in 2014 and 2015. What allowed you to battle back from those? Did you do anything differently in preparation for 2016? You had a really big season with 1,773 rushing yards.
Jones: I just made sure that I was taking good care of my body. I hit rehab really hard as I was preparing for my final season. Those were probably the two main things that I did.
If anyone at the combine had any questions about your health, how did you answer that?
Jones: Most of them knew about my ankle. They asked me how long it took me to get back, and what did I do to get back healthy. I just told them the truth. I missed the rest of the season, came back in the spring and rehabbed like three times a day.
In closing, why should a team invest a draft pick into Aaron Jones? What kind of guy are they inviting into their franchise?
Jones: I’m a hard working guy. When a team drafts me, they’re going to get a playmaker.