UCONN CB Byron Jones. Here's what Draft Guru Dane Brugler had on the CB he rated as #4 in this year's draft class:
4. BYRON JONES | Connecticut 6005|199 lbs|5SR New Britain, Conn. (St. Paul HS) 9/26/1992 (age 22) #16
2010: Redshirted GRADE 1st-2nd Round
2011: (12/8) 51/0.0/0.0/6/2 (SS) MEASUREABLES Arm: 32 | Hand: 10 | Wingspan: 76 1/2
2012: (12/12) 88/1.5/0.0/3/1 (SS) COMBINE VJ: 44 1/2 | BJ: 12'03” | SS: 3.94 | 3C: 6.78 | LS: 10.98
2013: (12/11) 60/2.0/0.0/11/3 (CB) PRO DAY 40-YD: 4.42 | 10-YD: 1.53 | BP: 18
2014: (7/7) 24/0.0/0.0/6/2 (CB)
Total: (43/38) 223/3.5/0.0/26/8
BACKGROUND: A two-star wide receiver recruit out of high school, Jones received only one FBS scholarship offer, committing to Connecticut and redshirting in 2010. He transitioned to safety during his redshirt year and started eight games in 2011, recording 51 tackles, six passes defended and two interceptions. Jones started all 12 games as a sophomore in 2012 and finished with 88 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and one interception. He moved to field cornerback in 2013 as a junior, recording 60 tackles, 11 passes defended and three interceptions. Jones started the first seven games of 2014 before an injury ended his senior season, finishing with 24 tackles, six passes defended and two interceptions. He earned an invitation to the 2015 Senior Bowl, but was unable to participate due to the injury.
STRENGTHS: Looks the part with a tall, long frame with adequate muscle build…sits low in his stance and transitions well to stay stride-for-stride with wide receivers vertically…flexible lower body movements to recover with smooth backpedal…leverages the field and uses his body to pin pass-catchers to the sideline…explosive lower body with outstanding leaping ability…physical wrap tackler and hits like a safety…smart, quick-thinking cover man, reading the receiver well with his back turned to the ball – natural football instincts…outstanding competitiveness at the catch point with playmaking ballskills – averaged 9.6 yards per interception return with one defensive touchdown…always dialed in and limits mental mistakes, locking down receivers like his life depends on it…ideal character, on and off the field, with a genuine love for football – film junkie and pushes himself…senior captain with low-key leadership traits…versatile experience with 38 career starts, playing both cornerback (18 starts) and safety (20 starts).
WEAKNESSES: Uses quick stab in press, but doesn't do it consistently and needs to be more efficient with his long arms…bad habit of hopping at the line of scrimmage and needs to stay patient with his feet…lacks transitional burst and doesn't flash a second gear to recover after the receiver gains a step…anticipation and read/react ability seem to come-and-go on film – needs more consistency in this area…caught flat-footed and will allow his eyes to pay rent in the backfield…can be driven downfield riding the hip of receivers and has a tough time with comeback and curl routes…overaggressive tendencies will get him in trouble…wasn't a regular on special teams coverages in college…long-term durability needs investigated due to a history of shoulder issues, missing the second half of his senior year with a separated left shoulder (Oct. 2014) that required surgery.
SUMMARY: A high school quarterback and wide receiver, Jones spent his UConn career in the defensive secondary, splitting his time between safety and cornerback. He looks the part and is a well-spoken individual with impressive intangibles, drawing praise from his coaching staff – served an internship at the U.S. Capitol during the summer of 2014. Jones plays with some hip and upper body tightness and inconsistent technique, but his fluid lower body helps mask mechanical flaws – set the broad jump record (12'03”) at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. Jones is unpolished in areas and needs to be more efficient with his length, but his combination of size, smarts and God-given athleticism is what NFL teams seek at the position, along with mature and motivated character – projects best as a press corner with a mid-to-late first round grade.
Remember, Dane Brugler is the author of the above text and deserves all credit for the work he put into his extensive 2015 draft guide. Follow Dane on Twitter @dpbrugler.
Given the situation with Brandon Carr – being owed a salary incompensurate with his performance for 2015 – selecting a top cornerback in the draft offers the Cowboys' front office the leverage needed to either force Carr into a pay-cut, which he's already refused once so far, or to cut him without harming the defense as much.
Personally, I'm all for Byron Jones. I was even before I learned that he was in Dallas working out with the team the morning of May 1, 2015.
A lot of fans – the media, too – had their sights set on the likes of Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon. I didn't see both of them going as quick as they did (top 20), but I knew neither would be available at #27 and that's just fine. Cornerback is a position we needed addressing far more than running back, and the Cowboys have demonstrated that with this pick.