- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Dallas Cowboys selected running back Felix Jones with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft. The next two picks that day were running backs as well -- Rashard Mendenhall to the Steelers and Chris Johnson to the Titans. That year's second-round running backs were Matt Forte and Ray Rice. Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to build draft boards.
Anyway, after five years as one of the worst kinds of NFL running backs -- the injury-prone backup -- Jones was cut loose by the Cowboys this offseason and has, as Adam Schefter reports, agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles. Because the Eagles already have LeSean McCoy as their No. 1 running back and Bryce Brown -- who ran like a No. 1 last year when McCoy got hurt -- as a No. 2, you likely have questions about why they want Jones. I'm sure they'll explain it when asked, but here's my first stab at it:
New Eagles coach Chip Kelly wants to run the ball a heck of a lot, and it's entirely possible he'll find ways to get more than two running backs semi-regular carries. Eagles fans aren't used to this, but a lot of things are going to be different this year and this is one of them. Jones also offers some level of versatility, provided he can stay healthy. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He has big-play ability. And should things go wrong with McCoy and/or Brown, Jones has some experience (though you can question its quality) as a between-the-tackles starting running back as well.
So yeah, I figure Jones has a chance to make the Eagles as a No. 3 back and get some amount of work in games if he does. And remember that this is a new coaching staff that might have a different opinion of Brown than the old one did. Brown showed a lot of good things late last year, but he also showed a penchant for fumbling that likely leaves his spot on the depth chart somewhat less secure. There was a time when someone thought Jones was a first-round talent -- well ahead of backs who actually turned out to be. Surely, he's worth a May 14 flier for a team that's looking to run as many offensive plays as possible in 2013.