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2016 NFL Draft: Cayleb Jones' character shouldn't be questioned, says Rich Rodriguez

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The wide receiver was reportedly removed from multiple NFL teams' draft boards due to off-the-field issues, but Rich Rodriguez defended his former player

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2016 NFL Draft rapidly approaches, former Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Cayleb Jones' draft stock is in flux.

Not necessarily because of his talent -- or lack thereof -- but because of off-the-field issues. In fact, some teams have dropped Jones from their draft boards altogether because of character concerns, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report.

It's not exactly clear what the specific concerns are about, but Jones had notable off-the-field issues before he arrived at Arizona. While with the Texas LonghornsJones was arrested and charged with second-degree aggravated assault after allegedly punching a Texas tennis player in the jaw. Jones was subsequently suspended from all team activities until the legal process was complete. Later, however, the charge was reduced and eventually dismissed and Jones decided to move on from Texas.

Obviously this specific incident happened before Jones transferred to Arizona and, since Jones arrived in Tucson, he hasn't had any known off-the-field issues. Though, it's possible that NFL teams have uncovered some that we don't know of.

However, Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez was quick to defend his former player.

"He has great character," Rodriguez said. "I mean not good, but great. We coached him hard. He worked his tail off in practice. He did everything we asked of him, so I told the scouts, and they don't ask us much, but when we had our Pro Day, I told 'em this is a great young man that'll be a great addition to your organization, so there should be no questions about that."

Arizona wide receiver Trey Griffey echoed his head coach.

"Nobody really cares about that," he said about Jones' time at Texas. "He's here. Rich can't judge people on their past events. We weren't worried about that. He's a great football player and a great person to be around. No matter what happened in the past, that had nothing to do with him at Arizona."

"Cayleb was a great teammate to be around," he continued. "I always had fun with him. He was my roommate for a couple of road games. It was a great thing. I loved playing with Cayleb, and everything about him. He taught me a lot."

Of course, it's expected for Jones' former coach and teammates to have his back (what else are they going to say in that situation?), so it doesn't necessarily mean that the off-the-field issues aren't legitimate.

Jones is currently projected to be a 5th to 7th round prospect by WalterFootball.com, but if NFL teams are uncertain about his character -- despite what Rich Rod and Griffey had to say -- Jones may very well go undrafted.

But, Griffey thinks teams would be making a huge mistake.

"If you're passing on Cayleb, that's gonna hurt you," Griffey said. "Because Cayleb is definitely going to make an impact no matter what team he goes to."

Jones had 129 catches for 1926 yards and 14 touchdowns in two seasons with the Wildcats.

The 2016 NFL Draft will take place on April 28-30.