Taiwan Jones is preparing to do his best Chris Johnson impression. Johnson, of course, burst onto the scene - almost literally - in 2008 when he ran his 40-yard dash in a dizzying 4.24 seconds. Two months later, the Titans selected him with the 24th overall pick.
Jones, meanwhile, is viewed as the best approximation of Johnson in this year's draft class. The Eastern Washington tailback (by way of Deer Valley High in Antioch) did not run at the combine because he was still recovering from a broken foot suffered in early December. However, he will work out for teams April 14 in Pittsburg. The session promises to be well-attended by NFL types, including the 49ers.
CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang said he's spoken to teams that see Jones as a second-round pick. "He's the best open-field runner in this draft," Rang said. "I expect 4.3 (second) speed. His lateral quickness is pretty amazing. The question is durability. He's a former cornerback, and he looks like a cornerback."
Indeed, Jones has had an array of dings and dents in his two seasons at tailback. But he's also had tremendous production, averaging 7.9 yards a carry and 14.3 yards per reception in 2010.
Rang stopped just short of comparing Jones to Johnson, who also was considered a second- to third-round pick before his freakish 40. "It's not just his speed and elusiveness," Rang said of Johnson, a three-time Pro Bowl player. "It's his toughness. For his size, to be able to withstand that punishment is phenomenal."
Johnson is listed at 5-11, 191 pounds. Jones measured 6-0, 194 pounds.
Also, eat your heart out Jarron Gilbert:
-- Matt Barrows