In the Trenches: Kevin Jones or Julius Jones
In The Trenches: Kevin Jones OR Julius Jones
Contributed By: Steve Yerger and Grady English
When taking a look at the Jones’, there are a lot of similarities that can be drawn. Both were taken in last year’s draft a little later than most people expected, both were taken by teams with a clear cut need for a feature RB, and both were named Jones. If you take a look at their stats from their rookie seasons, there are also many similarities. How they got those stats was a little different, as Kevin labored through the first half of the season without much success, while Julius sat on the shelf with a broken shoulder blade. But if you take a look at their second halves, here’s what you’ll see:
Name Games AAPG AYPG YPA Total TDs
Kevin Jones 8
While Julius had the edge in TD and a slight edge in yards per game, Kevin had a distinct advantage in yards per carry average. So, with everything looking so similar, is it safe to assume that you should just throw their names in a hat when determining their prospects for 2005 and beyond. The answer to that is obviously no, and I hope to show you why I think Kevin is the clear choice as the most sought after Jones.
I was skeptical when the Cowboys passed on Steven Jackson and traded the 22nd pick to the Buffalo Bills (who ultimately selected JP Losman), only to wait and pick Julius Jones with the 43rd overall pick. Running back was the Cowboys biggest need and they let THE blue chip prospect (Steven Jackson) slip through their fingers. When Julius ended up breaking his shoulder blade at the beginning of the season, I figured the Cowboys made a huge mistake. But I forgot, Bill Parcells was running the show…the guy knows what he is doing.
As Steve pointed about above, Jones rushed for 803 yards and 7 TDs over the last seven games. Prorate this for an entire season, it is over 1600 yards and 14 TDs…we are in stud territory here. And to be honest, I find this feat very impressive for someone who is a rookie coming back from a very painful injury.
This doesn’t discount what Kevin was able to do last season, however. Kevin put up near-stud numbers himself. But if you forced me to chose between the two, I would chose Julius a couple of slots ahead of Kevin for the 2005 season.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Julius Jones has a very bright future, I just think his success story will take several more years before it really starts to develop. Dallas just has too many issues as a team that will be hard for Julius to overcome. While their passing game was mildly successful in 2004, it is about to fall apart very soon. There is a huge question mark about who their starter will be at QB heading into 2005. Also, their WR corps isn’t getting any younger. While a lack of a passing game does not spell instant doom for a young RB (LaDanian Tomlinson’s early success in San Diego springs to mind), I just don’t see Julius as the type of guy able to withstand being the only one that the opposing D has to focus on. In addition, Dallas has some major holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, and it appears as if their 2005 draft focus will be on upgrading that unit. What this all adds up to is a frustrating 2005 season in the big D, which I think will lead to Bill Parcells’ final retirement. That means that Julius will go into 2006 with a new head coach, and having to learn a new system, further derailing his development. Julius Jones will be a solid RB2 for your fantasy squad in 2005, but if you’re looking for a top 10 stud, this is the wrong Jones.
I can sum up my preference of Julius over Kevin into a few points:
1) Julius’ toughness – Julius got the tough guy label during the 2nd half of the season. A broken shoulder blade is a very painful injury and is very limiting to the persons range of motion. The fact that Julius was able to come back like nothing ever happened speaks volumes to the type of player he is.
2) Bill Parcells versus Steve Mariucci – Bill Parcells offensive philosophy is more suited to having a power back run the ball 30 times a game. Mooch’s west coast offense relies more on the pass and with Charles Rogers showing back up this season I expect a bigger pass/run distribution in Detroit.
3) Cowboys versus Lions – the Cowboys are a better team than the Lions are right now. On paper I would give the advantage to the Lions (in fact, I would have the last 3 seasons too) but for some reason the Lions seem to be stuck in neutral (and will stay that way with Matt Millen as president). I expect the 2005 Cowboys to look more like the 2003 Cowboys (10-6) and the 2005 Lions to look like the 2004 Lions (6-10).
4) Offensive line – The Cowboys have a much better offensive line than the Lions and will until Larry Allen retires.
The Cowboys are a team on the rise and Julius will go with them. If you wanted to sum up my point even further, you could boil it down to one, and only one, factor….Bill Parcells. Bill Parcells gets the most out of everything around him and he is never unsuccessful for very long. If Parcells is going to win in 2005 he WILL do it with the running game. You also have to keep in mind, that the Cowboys are setting themselves up for short-term success and will do everything in their power to improve the offense in 2005 as opposed to building for the future.
Eight games into the 2004 season, Kevin Jones’ early career could be summed in one word: frustration. The Lions had failed to commit to him as the primary back early on, and after missing a game in week 4 due to injury, it took Kevin awhile to get things in gear. But in the second half, the lights came on, and Kevin showed exactly what the Lions fans can expect in the future. He had one 4-game stretch in the month of December where he racked up 554 rushing yards, with 1 rushing TD in each of the 4 games. The Lions have a young, talented offense, that should continue to develop in 2005, and it appears they will add to the talent pool and target the top TE in the 2005 draft, Heath Miller, with their first round selection. Joey Harrington has been very up and down in his early career, but a lot of that can be contributed to the difficulty his WRs have had staying healthy. If Roy Williams and Charles Rogers play all 16 games in 2005, the scoring potential of this offense is scary. It all adds up to lots of scoring chances for Kevin, and a good shot at reaching elite top 5 RB status in 2005.
Despite my preference for Julius in 2005, I do think that Kevin Jones is the better long run option. Kevin is of prototypical size (5-11, 225) and Julius is a little undersized (5-9, 205) and does have an injury history.
Kevin does have more offensive talent around him. That talent is also relatively the same in terms of experience (Harrington - 4 year vet, Rogers – 2 year vet, Williams – 1 year vet); they will grow together. When Parcells moves on and Mooch has more control, you will see the Lions, and Kevin, outpace the Cowboys, and Julius. But that is beyond 2005….
Both of these guys are extremely talented individuals, with very bright futures. But due to the teams that are built around them, it is clear that Kevin has a much greater chance at immediate success in 2005 than Julius does. I wouldn’t hesitate to add either one to my dynasty roster, as both should be top 20 backs next season. If you’re looking for the super-stud to lead your team in 2005, however, Kevin has to be your man.
I don’t think you will go wrong if you draft either of these guys in the 2005 season. But, sometimes, it only takes a few points to make the difference between a championship team and a first round loser. I think that Julius clearly has that edge if not for the only reason that he has a better team (not talent) and coach around him.
At this point in the offseason, if you asked me to rank these two I would have to give Julius a ranking of 10 and Kevin a ranking of 13. This all changes in a dynasty league, however. In a dynasty format I would rank Kevin in the top 7, Julius would rank somewhere around 15.