According to an NFL spokesperson, Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones was indeed granted special eligibility for the 2011 draft.
There had been some confusion as Jones was not among the record 56 underclassmen listed on a league press release provided yesterday.
The NFL's initial release "included only Division I-A players" and that Jones, as well as any other FCS players, would be mentioned in a later release by the league.
Until the league releases its non-FBS list to teams, the NFL was unwilling to list any other FCS underclassmen who may or may not be included in the 2011 draft. The spokesperson did confirm, however, that Jones turned in his paperwork and is eligible for the 2011 draft, making him the 57th (and counting?) underclassman available.
The 6-0, 200 pound Jones rushed for 1,742 yards and 14 touchdowns for the FCS champion Eastern Eagles. Jones was unable to play in the national championship game, however, as he broke a bone in his left foot earlier in the playoffs. He'd rushed for 230 yards against North Dakota State before sustaining the injury.
Jones, a former cornerback, possesses a combination of speed and elusiveness that quite frankly is rare at the the FCS level. He is currently rated as a 5th round pick by NFLDraftScout.com, but if he can prove his health to scouts at the Combine, he could skyrocket up draft boards.
Teams are always going to be hesitant to draft a running back with Jones' marginal build and history of injuries (broken foot, broken fibula in 2008, hand, shoulder and hip flexor issues in 2009), but in terms of explosiveness, Jones ranks with any back in this draft.