Detroit Lions: Why Matthew Stafford is happy for Andy Jones

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Originally undrafted out of a small Division I-AA college, Detroit Lions wide receiver Andy Jones is positioning himself to have a bigger role in 2019.

Playing in Division I-AA football in college to playing in the NFL is a leap very few make. Especially at the highly-competitive wide receiver position. But it’s those roots where current Detroit Lions’ wideout Andy Jones comes from. And now the fourth-year receiver is vying for a bigger role in 2019.

Jones posted solid numbers while playing for little known Jackson College out of Florida. The school is a member of the Pioneer Football League, home of the nation’s only non-scholarship, football-only NCAA Football Championship Subdivision conference according to their official website.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound receiver recorded 144 receptions for 2,120 yards and 17 touchdowns during his career with the oddly named Jacksonville Dolphins. What seemed like an unlikely path to an NFL career received a boost when Jones was invited to participate in the University of Florida’s pro day. It was there where his 40.5 vertical jump and 4.53 forty-yard dash matched some of the best numbers put up at that year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

Although Jones was not drafted, he was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent. And despite impressing during training camp, he failed to perform during the preseason and was relegated to the Cowboys’ practice squad. Jones eventually landed in Detroit in September of 2017 after a short stint with the Houston Texans.

But Jones didn’t record his first NFL regular season reception until Week 12 of last season. His first touchdown reception would come three weeks later against the Buffalo Bills. Then Jones would post an impressive six-catch, 50-yard performance in the Lions’ 31-0 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers in the final game of the year.

This offseason, Jones has been the Lions most consistent receiver according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The insider believes he’d be fourth on the receiver depth chart if the regular season kicked off today.

Here’s what Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford told the Detroit News about Jones, following his stellar performance to end minicamp that included a couple of touchdown receptions.

"“I think [Jones] got some opportunities in games for us late last year and he stepped up and made some really good plays. He puts a ton of work in, obviously. He’s a hard worker who has made some big plays and made some big ones today out here on the practice field, hit him for some really big plays. I’m happy for him.”"

Jones, who is likely the best blocking receiver Detroit has,  could already be a lock to make the final roster in Motown due to his physicality and ability to play special teams. If he can prove to be a more consistent receiver as well than the sky is the limit for the 24-year old.

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It’s been a long, unusual road for Detroit Lions’ wide receiver Andy Jones. Now, after three years, he finally appears to be set to make a real impact in the NFL this upcoming season. And just like Matthew Stafford, Lions’ fans should be happy for the hardworking former Division I-AA star.