May 16, 2014, 1:10 PM EST
Craig Chval, the official 2013 football beat writer for the Strong & True blog, is currently a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Over the course of the year Craig will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and previews of each game. You can follow Craig (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.
The eighth and final former Irish player drafted in 2014, T.J. Jones joined the deep Lions receiving corps when Detroit chose him with the 13th pick in the sixth round (189 overall). Quarterback Matthew Stafford routinely throws between 4,500 and 5,000 yards in a season, and he’s got a good set of weapons from Calvin Johnson to Reggie Bush.
Jones was projected to go in the fourth or fifth round, so the Lions felt like they got a steal in round 6. Let’s take a look at how Jones will fit with Detroit.
2013 wide receiver starters: Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Kris Durham
Especially after signing Golden Tate in the offseason, wide receiver isn’t exactly an area of need for Detroit. Obviously Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the league, and Tate is coming off a season with 64 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns.
When Nate Burleson got injured in a pizza takeout trip gone wrong, Detroit discovered they didn’t have a whole lot of depth at receiver after Johnson. Signing Tate helps, but if there are injury problems again, those depth guys can prove important.
Burleson signed with the Browns, but the Lions still have Kris Durham (38 receptions in 2013), Ryan Broyles, and Jeremy Ross. As deep as Detroit is at wide receiver, Jones’ No. 1 goal should be to make the top six receivers to get a roster spot.
If he does that, it won’t help to learn from one of the greatest receivers of all time, as well as a fellow Domer in Golden Tate. Although it will be tough to see time at receiver, Jones can be another one of those guys to see the field via special teams or an injury fill in.
With 1,108 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2013, Jones was possibly one of the most polished receivers in the draft. Scouts don’t think he has a remarkably high ceiling because of his speed and size, but he can probably fill in right away if other receivers experience injuries. His route running and catching ability can put him in that role right off the bat.
If Jones makes a good impression, he can see some time in the slot for Detroit. The Lions throw the ball around a lot and they have a lot of weapons, but Jones has the chance to potentially compete for that No. 3 or No. 4 receiver spot. He showed tremendous improvement over his Notre Dame career, so it might be fun to watch his growth in the NFL.
That’s it for my rookie prospectus series. Here are the rest of the entries.
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