Aaron Jones still waiting for name to be called

Aaron+Jones+and+agent+Chris+Cabott+watch+the+NFL+Draft.

Jason Green

Aaron Jones and agent Chris Cabott watch the NFL Draft.

Jason Green, Sports Editor

Round three of the 2017 National Football League Draft ended Friday night with UTEP running back Aaron Jones still in a state of limbo.

Several running backs who many thought would be picked in the first few rounds, were. LSU’s Leonard Fournette went fourth overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey went eighth overall to the Carolina Panthers, all in Thursday night’s first round.

Aaron Jones, flanked by agent Chris Cabott, watched the broadcast on the NFL Network – often high-fiving Cabbott when another running back was drafted. Cabott was especially excited each time the Packers took a player that was not a running back.

“We don’t want the Packers to take a running back,” said Cabott with a knowing smile early in the second round. “We know the 49ers and Packers have (Jones) in the day two range. We want more running backs to get off the board. Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt – Joe MIxon is a wild card.”

Soon after, the controversial Mixon was off the board with the sixteenth pick of the second round to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Then came the third round; Kamara went to the Saints, Hunt went to the Chiefs. More and more, Jones left his familiar spot in the middle of the main couch in the living room and walked outside to talk to family. Cabott finally took time to eat the dinner he was putting off.

Then came the biggest shock of the third round, at least at the Jones family watch party. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Pittsburgh running back James Conner with one of the last picks in the third round.

Conner – a running back that many pundits felt ranked below Jones heading into the draft – was picked by one of the few teams left with a pick in the third round, and the air seemed let out of the room.

“It went the way it went,” said Jones’ father, Alvin Jones Sr., following the close of the draft party. “He was projected third to sixth round, so we’re okay. I wanted it for him tonight. But, we’ll be ready at 10 a.m. all over again.”

When the draft begins again Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Mountain Time, the Green Bay Packers will have the first pick. Following Friday’s slight disappointment, Aaron Jones said that tomorrow is even more exciting knowing that he could be a Packer very early in the day.

“It was hard to see some running back’s come off the board. I felt that I could have been (picked) before a few,” said Jones with his ever-present smile. “But, Green Bay and San Francisco still haven’t taken a back yet. I always sleep well, but I wish the draft could have continued.”

Then again, maybe it was meant to be this way after all.

As Alvin Jones Sr. mentioned before the night came to a close, tomorrow is April 29. When Jones began at UTEP, he was assigned the number 29 at random, after wearing the number two at Burges High School.

“Everybody knows 29 now,” said Alvin Jones Sr. smiling. “He made those other colleges realize what they missed, just like he’s going to make these teams realize what they missed out on.”