Aaron Jones is 25-years old this season and grew up in the El Paso, Texas area. Jones was a three-star athlete before he chose to stay in his hometown to play college ball at a lesser-known school, UTEP.
During his college seasons, Jones was putting up some monster numbers (301 rushing yards and 4 TDs in 1 game) on his way to setting multiple school records. He finished his senior season with 1,773 rushing yards (7.7 YPC), 17 rushing TDs, 28 receptions, three receiving TDs (and a passing TD).
Jones played all four seasons at UTEP and declared for the 2017 NFL Draft. At the NFL Combine, he ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash. The Green Bay Packers chose him in the fifth round, 182nd overall.
In his rookie season, Jones took advantage of injuries to Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams, finishing ninth in the league in rushing yards among NFL rookies despite only playing in 12 games. He led the team with four rushing TDs, averaged 5.5 YPC and caught 9 of 18 targets for only 22 yards.
Jones faced a two-game suspension heading into the 2018 season for violating the NFL’s Substance Abuse policy. Returning, he flashed his potential, playing in 12 of the remaining 14 games, rushing for 728 yards on only 133 carries (5.5 YPC), 8 TDs, adding 26 catches on 35 targets for 206 yards (7.9 YPC) and 1 TD.
In 2018 Aaron Jones feasted on mostly bad rushing defenses and averaged 5.5 yards per attempt (in fact he did that in his first 2 NFL seasons). To put this in historical context, during Alvin Kamara’s monster-efficient 2017 season he averaged 6.1 YPC, and during Adrian Peterson’s record-setting 2012 season, he averaged 6.0 YPC. Almost 60% of Jones’ TDs came in the seven games (out of his 24 NFL games), where he averaged over 70 rushing yards (it seemed to be feast or famine for him).
Entering the 2019 season, Aaron Jones did not start training camp well, as he suffered a hamstring strain that cost him nine days in early August. The good news is that despite missing time, Jones played in every single game of the 2019 season. Jones would compile 1,084 rushing yards, including 16 rushing touchdowns on 236 carries. He also caught 49 passes for 474 yards and three additional scores.
Despite some vouchering of targets and rushes from Jamall Williams, Aaron Jones had a fantastic 2019 season. He suffered a shoulder injury in week three, but this did not prevent him from playing the following week. There are limited details as to exactly what the injury was.
Jones had a monster week five, rushing for 107 yards and four touchdowns, adding seven catches for 75 yards on eight targets. Not to take away from an absolute monster game, but to provide some context, the Packers were without both Devante Adams and Jamaal Williams that game due to injuries.
Jones left a week eight match up with against the Chiefs with a shoulder injury in the second quarter, but after getting presumably negative x-rays, he was able to return in the second half. He finished the game with an impressive seven catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns. The X-ray was likely precautionary to ensure he did not suffer a broken clavicle or sprain his AC joint.
As you follow Jones’ production each week, it’s kind of like a roller coaster. Some weeks he has monster games, while other weeks he rushes 13 times for 38 yards. The down weeks were in correlation with the amount of use that Jamaal Williams was getting, as he was a significant source of vulturing for Jones.
Jones finished the regular season with an impressive 1,558 total yards and 19 touchdowns. Thankfully he did not suffer any significant injuries, and as a result, played in all 16 games for the first time in his career.
Reviewing Jones’ injuries is a little concerning, but the good news is that he was able to avoid any repeat injuries in 2019.
In his junior year at UTEP, Jones suffered a severe left ankle injury (similar to A.J. Green’s 2019 preseason injury), as he only played in two of the team’s 12 games and required surgery to repair the ligaments. He was able to return healthy the following year, where he rushed for over 1,700 yards and averaged 7.7 YPC.
In his rookie NFL season, Jones suffered a moderate right MCL sprain. These usually take about 3-6 weeks to heal in running backs fully, and he returned three weeks later. Three weeks after returning, Jones sprained the same ligament but this time in the other knee (left MCL), causing him to miss some of Week 16 and all of Week 17.
The MCL is a commonly sprained ligament in the knee due to the tackling techniques of defensive players, where they try to take players’ knees out from the lateral aspect of the knee, thereby stressing and sometimes spraining/tearing the MCL.
I often perform an ultrasound on some athletes’ knees, measuring the space between the inside (MCL) and outside (LCL) of their knees. The more significant the gap when stress is applied, the more their MCL is injured.
In the early training camp of 2018, Jones suffered a mild hamstring strain, which caused him to miss about two weeks. Then after posting a solid sophomore NFL season, Jones missed the final two games of the season with another sprained right MCL, and it was the second time Jones has injured his right MCL, in addition to injuring his left MCL once.
The good news is that Jones avoided surgery. Jones is at an increased risk for reinjuring (both) MCLs (right more than left) in his knees going forward. These ligaments are not as strong as they were before the initial injury (scar tissue isn’t as powerful or as flexible), but his knees should not be overly concerning.
Similar to how last year’s training camp started, Jones strained his hamstring in camp of 2019. A common occurrence as early preseason as guys are ramping up their running and their body is unprepared for the amount of stress that they are asking of it after over seven months off (relatively).
The good news is that besides the hamstring injuries in each of the past two training camps, he did not suffer any setbacks the entire regular season. Someone tell him to start doing Nordic Curls to prevent future hamstring injuries!
Regarding Jones’ knees/MCLs, they were able to endure the grueling NFL season despite rushing for career-highs of 236 carries and 1,084 yards.
After his 2019 season, where he scored 19 total touchdowns, gained 1400+ total yards, caught 49 passes, and averaged nearly 17 fantasy points per game, it's easy to understand why Aaron Jones finished as the RB2 across all formats.
Aaron Jones was very impressive in 2019. Besides Christian McCaffrey, who was on a completely different level, Aaron Jones was one of the top running backs in the league. Jones’ 236 rushing attempts was 15th most attempts in the league. He had the 12th most yards, and he tied Derrick Henry for the most rushing touchdowns (16) in the NFL. Jones took care of the ball as he only fumbled three times.
Aaron Jones stepped up his receiving in 2019, despite ceding 39 catches to Jamaal Williams, Jones still caught 49 passes in 2019. His 49 was only five less than Ezekiel Elliott, and three less than breakout wide receiver A.J. Brown.
In 2020 Jones is likely to face a regression in touchdowns and possibly yards. A healthy Jones projects for double-digit touchdowns and will continue to see his passing targets to keep his floor from bottoming out. He is capable of 1,500 total yards. Jones’ lack of hitting the home run will cap his yardage numbers, but he is good for at least 30+ receptions.
As Aaron Rodgers continues to age, the ground game should expand. Last season, the Packers averaged 25 rushes per game and were league-average in yards per rush. The Packers ground game had the 6th most receptions, and that should continue or get better.
The offensive line is one of the best in the NFL. David Bakhtiari (All-Pro) will lead the zone blocking scheme. Right tackle Rick Wagner will replace Bryan Bulaga (LAC). Both Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner are useful. Green Bay also chose Jon Runyan, Simon Stepaniak, and Jake Hanson in the sixth-round for quality depth.
In a surprising twist, Green Bay didn't add to their wide receiver core during the draft. Davante Adams will continue to exploit defenses, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Devin Funchess, and Allen Lazard will fill in as role players. Last year’s rookie tight end Jace Sternberger will have a full season as a starter now that Jimmy Graham is in Chicago and he is healthy.
Jones helped to re-instill confidence in his ability to stay healthy in the 2019 season. Sports Injury Predictor calculates that Jones has a 55.9% chance of injury in 2020. They project him to miss approximately 1.4 games. I put him in the lower end of the moderate category for injury risk, with a 4 out of 10.
While possible, Aaron Jones is unlikely to finish as the RB2 as he did last season. The talent is definitely there, and the team is still skilled offensively, but he needs to continue to stay healthy. With great blocking in front of him, and a Hall of Fame quarterback Rodgers directing the group, Jones should continue to be a top-12 running back, and shopping should begin around RB7.
Injury Risk: Moderate. 4/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Dec 16, 2018||Knee MCL Sprain Grade 2||Jones missed the final 2 games of the season with a sprained right MCL.|
|Jul 28, 2018||Thigh Hamstring Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Jones missed about 2 weeks of training camp with a hamstring injury.|
|Dec 23, 2017||Knee MCL Sprain Grade 2||Jones sprained his left MCL in Week 16 and missed the season's final game.|
|Nov 12, 2017||Knee MCL Sprain Grade 2||Jones sprained his right MCL in the 1st quarter of the Week 10 win over the Bears. He missed the next 2 games.|