#31 Byron Jones
Byron Philip Jones was born in New Britain, Connecticut on September 26, 1992. Jones is a versatile defensive back who has played both cornerback and safety in the NFL. He played collegiately at the University of Connecticut before being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Byron Jones put together quite an impressive resume during his high school career and excelled in several different sports.
While attending St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol, Connecticut, Jones played basketball, football, and competed in track and field.
Jones was one of the state’s top performers in the 200-meter and 400-meter. At the 2010 NVL Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Jones earned first place in both the 200-meter and 400-meter with times of 22.13 seconds and 48.43 seconds, respectively.
It was on the football field where Byron really made his mark in high school. Jones was named to the Class MM All-State team by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association and First Team All-Naugatuck Valley as a senior. He was also named team captain as a senior and helped his team advance to the MM state playoffs.
Coming out of high school, Byron Jones was considered a two-star recruit by Rivals.com and ended up accepting a football scholarship from the University of Connecticut.
Byron Jones made 37 starts in 43 career games at safety and cornerback for the Huskies during his collegiate career.
Jones red-shirted in 2010, but still was awarded the Special Teams Scout Player of the Week before the Syracuse game on November 20, 2010.
In the 2011 season, Byron Jones started a total of eight games and six of the final seven games of the season. He ended up sixth on the team in tackles with 51 and had a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown against USF, in which he earned the honors of being named BIG EAST Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Jones started all 12 games at safety in 2012 and was the third leading tackler on the team with 88 tackles. Jones had one interception in the 2012 season and his best game came against Temple when he had a career-high 13 tackles.
In 2013, he started all 12 games at cornerback after converting from the safety position. Byron Jones ended up finishing fourth on the team with 60 tackles and had a team-high three interceptions. He was also named to the 2013 American Athletic Conference All-Academic team.
As a senior in 2014, Byron Jones started the first seven games of the season at cornerback before a season-ending shoulder injury cut his year short. Before his season was cut short, Jones recorded 24 tackles, two interceptions, and four pass breakups. One of his interceptions he returned 70 yards for a touchdown against USF.
2015 NFL Draft
Byron Jones took full advantage of his opportunity to compete at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. He set the world on fire by being a top performer in nearly every event, despite still recovering from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the final six games of his senior season.
Jones was a top performer in the vertical jump (44.5 inches), the 3 cone drill (6.78 seconds), 20 yard shuffle (3.94 seconds), and 60 yard shuffle (10.98 seconds); but it was the broad jump that really caught everyone’s attention.
Jones set the unofficial world record for the broad jump – or standing long jump – by jumping 12’3”.
It was Jones’ performance at the NFL Scouting Combine that caused a lot of so-called draft experts to have to go back and review his college game tape in order to get a better idea of exactly the type of football player he was. Was he just a workout wonder or was he truly a physically gifted athletic football player?
Byron Jones was arguably one of the most talked about draft prospects entering the 2015 NFL Draft after the show he put on at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Many draft analysts had Jones slotted anywhere from a late first-round draft pick to an early second round draft pick.
The Dallas Cowboys decided to use their 27th pick overall to draft the versatile defensive back out of the University of Connecticut, despite defensive end Randy Gregory still on the board, who a lot of people considered a top 10 talent.
Luckily for the Cowboys though, Gregory was still available on the second round and the organization didn’t hesitate to write his name on a draft card and make him a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
Byron Jones’ versatility to play several different positions in the Cowboys secondary was something they simply couldn’t pass up and was ultimately the deciding factor to make him a member of the organization for years to come.
Byron Jones had a lot thrown at him his first year in the NFL, and he performed admirably for the Dallas Cowboys defense.
The attribute that convinced the Cowboys into drafting Jones in the first place was his versatility and that versatility was on full display throughout his rookie season.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli had Jones play nearly every position in the secondary. Byron Jones played as an outside cornerback, in the slot, safety, and even a little dime linebacker when the Cowboys defense was in the nickel package.
The Cowboys couldn’t have been more pleased with Jones’ performance in his first year. He made 11 starts in the Cowboys secondary in 2015, but the majority of the starts came at the safety position (7). He was credited with 66 tackles and nine pass deflections, but failed to record an interception.
Jones did, however, have his rookie mistakes and his first game to start at cornerback for an injured Morris Claiborne against the Miami Dolphins provided evidence enough. He gave up a 47-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry and a 29-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills before he left the game with an ankle injury.
Byron Jones rebounded in his second start at cornerback against the Carolina Panthers when he made two key goal line plays to prevent a touchdown before the half ended.
Jones remained relatively healthy throughout his rookie season, but he did have a scary moment against the New York Jets when he suffered a dislocated knee while tackling wide receiver Quincy Enunwa. Fortunately, he was able to pop it back in and finish the ball game, playing 71 total snaps.
The Dallas Cowboys are expecting big things from him in 2016 as their starting free safety.
The total value of Byron Jones’ rookie contract is $8,601,938. Jones will make an average of $2,150,485 per season and is fully guaranteed $6,993,947. This makes Jones the 63rd highest paid cornerback in the NFL.
Jones is entering the second year of his rookie contract and will have a cap hit of $1,954,986 in 2016, $2,345,983 in 2017, and $2,736,980 in 2018. The Dallas Cowboys will then have to decide if they want to offer him a long-term contract or pick up his fifth year option.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Needs: Defensive Tackle
After the Dallas Cowboys gave up 273 rushing yards in last season's playoff loss to the Rams, the defensive tackle position became a greater concern for 2019. It's one of the key spots that Dallas may address in this week's NFL Draft.
It's unfair to allow one game to paint the entire picture. Before going to Los Angeles, things were looking good at DT with solid play from Maliek Collins and Antwaun Woods. We weren't even bemoaning the absence of David Irving; the Cowboys' defense had emerged as one of the top groups in the league.
But then Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson ran wild, and now it's left folks wondering if Dallas is going to be able to stand up to the elite teams in the NFL without some better talent in the middle of their defensive line.
Collins and Woods are back in 2019, and veteran Tyrone Crawford should be used more at DT this year now that Robert Quinn here to play defensive end. Dallas also signed free agent Christian Covington from Houston to add to their interior rotation, plus re-signed Daniel Ross for depth.
It's a solid group, but none of these players can claim to be a game-changer at this point. There are high hopes for what Antwaun Woods might be evolving into, but that's hardly guaranteed.
Not only could the Cowboys stand to add more talent to the mix, but they may need to draft someone now in preparation for the future.
Assuming everyone sticks around in 2019, next year could see a mass exodus from the current DT depth chart. Crawford is likely to be a salary cap casualty while Collins and Covington will be unrestricted free agents.
Even Ross and Woods will technically be free agents, but they will be under the Restricted and Exclusive Rights designations so Dallas can easily keep them if they choose to.
Clearly, though, the Cowboys should be thinking ahead when it comes to their defensive tackles and this draft. And their second-round pick, 58th overall, may give them an opportunity to get better now and find a long-term answer.
True, Dallas has not typically used high picks at the DT position. The third-round pick they spent in Maliek Collins in 2016 was the highest since Willie Blade was a third-round pick in 2001 (Crawford and Jason Hatcher were originally drafted as 3-4 defensive ends).
But this 2019 presents some unique circumstances. Dallas is covered at almost all of their "glamour" positions; it's rare they don't have a crucial need for a WR, CB, DE, or some other position of greater notoriety.
Plus, you could make a case for DT being the most pivotal need on the entire roster. It depends on how you feel about the current talent at safety and tight end, but you could make a case for the interior defensive line needing an upgrade as badly as any spot on the team.
Because of comparable need at positions like TE and S, the Cowboys aren't going to reach to fill any position. They will only take a player who they feel offers great value.
One guy who could fall to the 58th pick is Dexter Lawrence from Clemson, a mammoth DT at 6'4" and over 340 lbs. He's not only a run-stuffer but has shown the athletic ability to even get into the backfield at times.
It's going to take that kind of player to make Dallas pull the trigger on a DT in the second round. But even if it doesn't happen then, you can expect someone to probably get drafted somewhere in the team's earlier picks.
Because of their 2019 depth, Dallas might also be willing to take a chance on Jeffery Simmons out of Mississippi State. He has an ACL injury from the combine which might cost him most of this year, but Simmons is a first-round talent.
As we saw a few years ago with Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys are willing to take the risk for those kind of players. And Simmons' prognosis isn't nearly as dangerous as Jaylon's was.
However it goes, defensive tackle is certainly a position of need for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys. Despite their history, don't be surprised if they draft one high this weekend.
Draft Likelihood: 90%
Projected Round: 3rd-4th
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Other Draft Needs Articles
Cowboys Draft: DT is Unlikely at #58
The draft needs have been discussed. You've read the mock drafts. The Dallas Cowboys have put their draft board together. Now all that's left to be done is for the Cowboys to go and draft football players.
The NFL Draft will begin on Thursday night, but the Dallas Cowboys won't go on the clock -- unless a dramatic trade up occurs -- until Friday night when the second round begins. There's been a ton of speculation on who the Dallas Cowboys could select when they eventually get their turn to add to their roster.
Positions like safety, wide receiver, tight end, defensive end, defensive tackle, and cornerback have all mentioned in line with the Cowboys selection at pick 58. Though anything is possible, it's unlikely that the interior defensive line will be the direction the Cowboys go with their second round pick.
You have no further to look than the Dallas Cowboys draft history since 2011 when Head Coach Jason Garrett entered his first draft with the club as their permanent head coach.
|8||2014||2||34||Demarcus Lawrence||DE||22||2014||2018||0||2||3||33||64||47||1||34.0||Boise St.|
|10||2014||7||251||Ken Bishop||DT||23||2014||2015||0||0||0||0||5||0||Northern Illinois|
|11||2012||3||81||Tyrone Crawford||DE||22||2012||2018||0||0||5||31||92||74||22.0||Boise St.|
Since Jason Garrett took over as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, they have only drafted four defensive tackles. Tyrone Crawford, who was drafted as a 3-4 defensive end in 2012, has been more of a hybrid player. But if we consider him an interior defensive lineman, then the Cowboys have only selected five interior defensive linemen in eight seasons. Only twice did they use a pick higher than the seventh round on an interior defensive lineman. 2012, when they selected Tyrone Crawford in the third round with the 81st pick in the draft. Then in 2016, they took Maliek Collins with the 67th overall pick of the third round.
Every other defensive tackle choice has been in the seventh round. Compare that to the defensive end position. On the EDGE, the Cowboys have selected six players, only one of them being a seventh round pick. Of their six defensive end selections, one was in the first round, two were in the second (Randy Gregory not listed), two were in the fourth, one was in the fifth, and one was in the seventh.
The Cowboys have used picks in just about every round to find their defensive end rotation, but have been reluctant to spend premium picks on a defensive tackle.
Generally, Rod Marinelli gets blamed for the lack of value placed on the interior defensive line, and some of that is true. Since Marinelli became the defensive coordinator in 2014, the Cowboys have only selected three interior defensive linemen. Maliek Collins was the only one of the three not selected in the seventh round.
Every other Rod Marinelli-era defensive tackle addition has been in search of a diamond in the rough. They found it, though temporarily, with David Irving and have apparently done so again with Antwaun Woods. The additions of Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder -- who played on the interior for Matt Patricia's 3-4 defense in Detroit -- seem to be further attempts to find rotational players at a low cost.
This year's NFL Draft has really good depth at defensive tackle. While a lot of the names at the top like Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver have gotten most of the hype, there are players in the third through seventh rounds that could be week one impact players. Whether it's a Trysten Hill, Gerald Willis, Charles Omenihu, or Renell Wren in the second or third, or a Kingsley Keke in the fourth or fifth, the Cowboys will likely have options when attacking the defensive tackle position in the draft.
With a lot of their pre-draft visitors coming at the safety and wide receiver position, it seems much more likely that the team will allocate their second round pick to upgrade one of those position groups. Considering the contracts of Byron Jones and Robert Quinn are up after the 2019 season, it's possible that the Cowboys even look at cornerback or cornerback with the 58th overall pick.
The Cowboys are pretty deep at the defensive tackle position with Antwaun Woods and Christian Covington your primary 1-technique defensive tackles and Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, and Kerry Hyder your primary 3-technique defensive tackles. Unless someone like a Jeffrey Simmons, Dexter Lawrence, or Christian Wilkins falls to them or within striking distance of a trade up, expect the Cowboys to use their first pick in the draft at a different position.
Cowboys Draft: Final Wishlist For 58th Overall
With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the shortlist of prospects for the Cowboys to target with their first selection grows narrower and narrower.
Now, when the Cowboys come on the clock Friday night, fans will have a clear idea about which group of players they'd like to see the Cowboys choose from. Will they look for an athletic defensive back with "Swiss-Army Knife" type ability? Or a hard-nosed defensive lineman who can win with effort and power?
Right now, it's all speculation, but here is my personal wishlist for the Dallas Cowboys at 58th overall.
Find Yourself A Safety
Specifically, land either Washington's Taylor Rapp or Virginia's Juan Thornhill. The Cowboys won't be able to control which, if either, is available when they come to the podium, but both would provide their defense with something different.
Taylor Rapp is more of what the Cowboys need right now. He can play strong safety, he can play in the box, and he should be a solid professional and have a nice career. Juan Thornhill, though, is the one I see with a gigantic upside.
His athletic profile puts him in elite category, and his tape is more than good enough to justify a top 50 pick, let alone finding him at 58. Thornhill is the more versatile defensive back, while Rapp fits the "strong safety" prototype much more traditionally.
Either way the Cowboys will be making an excellent selection if they add one of these two players to their roster. Hopefully, they'll be available at the end of round two, but I'm certainly more skeptical about Rapp making it there.
Let's Beef Up The Trenches
This, on my wishlist, means taking either Boston College's Zach Allen or UCF's Trysten Hill.
It would be a bit of reach to grab Hill here, admittedly, but he's a good player that would fill a need of sorts right away. The Cowboys made some moves to help out the interior of their defensive line throughout free agency, but drafting a young gun is never a bad idea. I'd be more comfortable taking him at 90, but certainly won't be mad about it at 58.
While Trysten Hill might be considered a reach at 58, Zach Allen could be a steal. The 6'4" 280 pound defensive end is stout against the run, setting the edge and playing physically against offensive tackles, but he also offers upside as a pass rusher as well. His strength, effort, and heavy hands are impressive both against the run and pass.
You can never have enough talent across the defensive line, and both Zach Allen and Trysten Hill would give the Cowboys just that.
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