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Longshots: WR Andy Jones Has Small School Background, But Big Potential

(Editor's Note: Training camp is an important time of year for the NFL's undrafted free agents, as unknown players will fight to earn roster spots all over the league. The Cowboys have an especially rich history with undrafted free agents, given the success of once-unknown players like Tony Romo, Cole Beasley, Lance Dunbar, Jeff Heath and Dan Bailey. This series will seek to preview this year's batch of undrafteds, as well as the challenge that awaits them at training camp. We'll kick the series off with wide receiver Andy Jones.)

Name:Andy Jones
College:Jacksonville (Fl.)

College Career:Jones might come from the most unheralded background of any of this year's undrafted players. Jacksonville operates at the FCS level of college football and doesn't offer athletic scholarships. Jones actually had to go to nearby Gainesville, Fla., to attend the Florida Gators' annual Pro Day. He turned heads once he got there, though, with a solid 4.50 40-yard dash and an amazing 41.5-inch vertical jump. He totaled 144 receptions for 2,120 yards and 17 touchdowns during his career – including 60 catches for 890 yards and 10 touchdowns during the 2015 season.

Spring Synopsis:Jones was clearly seen as a high priority after the NFL draft, as he got the largest signing bonus of any Cowboys undrafted free agent at $15,000. At various times throughout the offseason program, he showed exactly why. Jones has the size and athleticism to create mismatches in the secondary, showcased by several impressive grabs during OTAs and minicamp. By the end of the spring, he earned several opportunities to work with the first-team offense – due to the fact that Dez Bryant sat out of offseason practices.

How He Makes It:The back end of the wide receiver depth chart looks wide open, which is great news for all of the young receivers on the Cowboys' roster. Jones is going to have his work cut out for him, but his size and athletic ability compare favorably to anyone he'll be going up against. What might help Jones even more is if the Cowboys opt to keep six receivers on their 53-man roster. That hasn't typically been the case in recent years, but perhaps Jones can be convincing enough to merit an extra spot.

How He Doesn't: The back end of the depth chart is wide open, but it's fair to say there is a hierarchy in place – and it might work against any of the newcomers. The top trio of Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley is already set. That likely leaves two spots to be decided between Brice Butler, Devin Street, Lucky Whitehead and then the rookies. Now, Jones clearly has impressive raw athleticism, but the coaching staff has shown a penchant to trust in more experienced players. On top of that, Jones is less likely to make an impact on special teams than others – like Whitehead, for instance. That could work against him when it comes time to make roster cuts.


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