Raiders RB Taiwan Jones moving to cornerback


Taiwain Jones has struggled to make his mark in the Raiders backfield in the two years he’s been with the team. Jones has the speed to excel at the position but it sorely lacks the size at 5-foot-10, 197 pounds and has struggled staying healthy. And he’s also been firmly in the shadows of Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson (even Marcel Reece) on the depth chart.

But now Jones is reportedly switching to the other side of the ball to play cornerback. From ESPN’s Bill Williamson:

“I’m pushing for cornerback,” Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie said Friday from the NFL combine. “I think it fits his skill set. I think we’re going to see how he does there.”

Jones does have experience at the position. He played corner in high school and was recruited by Eastern Washington as one, which he played for his freshman season before switching to the backfield. In December, Jones hinted at the possibility of a future position change, via Vic Tafur:

“I’ve thought about it a lot,” Jones said. “Really, I just love playing football. If they need me to play defense, I think I’d be pretty happy with that.”

People switch positions all the time in college but in the NFL it is rare. Yes, Will Tukuafu of the Niners occasionally plays both full back and nose tackle for the 49ers, and Bruce Miller never played full back until he was drafted by the Niners.

But none of those positions is as technically specific as cornerback requires a player to be. Even though Jones has elite speed after running a 4.33 at the 2011 NFL combine, a scout with whom Williamson spoke agrees it’s going to be a difficult transition:

“Clearly, he has speed, but cornerbacks spend a ton of time backpedaling and flipping their hips in transition, as well as reading routes. Sounds like desperation to me.”

But, hey. We all know the Raiders secondary could use whatever it can get.

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