Today’s draft profile will look at an interesting prospect. He is listed as a first or second round pick by most, but I think NFL teams value him as a first rounder at this point. And while he is not the best corner in the draft right now, he may end up being the best in the long run in coached properly. Could he be the Detroit Lions pick that no one expects at 23rd overall? Lets look at Connecticut corner Byron Jones.
I want to start by looking at something that Gil Brandt posted on twitter. This may be the most telling sign that Jones could be the best corner in the draft. He listed the top 5 corners in the 2015 draft at not giving up touchdowns. The top guy on that list was Jones with 0 given up. Trae Waynes, the consensus top corner in the draft, was second with 1 given up. Now, granted Waynes played better competition than Jones, but Jones also was in the top 5 for lowest 2014 burn rate with a 37.0% rate. Waynes was not even on the list. So in Jones, we are looking at a guy who does not get burned often, and does not give up touchdown passes. The only other player on both lists was corner Eric Rowe who the Lions have looked at quite a bit.
Looking a bit more at Byron Jones, some of the key features that stick out start with his size. Jones is 6’1 199lbs, perfect size for a corner in today’s NFL. He performed fantastically at the combine which we will get to later, even setting some records. He did not run the 40 yard dash at the combine which is disappointing but his pro day numbers will fill that in.
Below are the official combine numbers for Byron Jones
|40 Yard Dash
||3 Cone Drill
||20 Yard Shuttle
The glaring hole here is that Jones chose not to run the 40, yet he did other drills to indicate there was no reason he could not run the forty, even though he used his shoulder as an excuse. Looking briefly at the numbers, Jones’ broad jump stands out, and it should. He set a world record for the broad jump at the NFL combine. That is serious explosion. He also posted one of the highest verticals at his position with a 44.5 inch vertical. In fact, he was a top performer at every drill he did. At his size, that makes him best suited to play against any big receiver he should face. His 20 yard shuttle indicates a quickness necessary for the corner position. At his pro day, Byron Jones ran an official 4.40 40 yard dash and in unofficial 4.36. So to add to his size, explosion, and vertical, he has the speed to play the position.
Some of Jones’ strengths are that he has good recovery speed. He is very smart and instinctive. He is a reliable tackler. He was a team captain and a leader. He also is willing to play hurt. His weaknesses are that he plays too high, struggles to change direction and loses balance too easily. He is not a physical player and suffered a serious shoulder injury. He is a high character guy but his athleticism has scouts worried that he may not be able to play man coverage in the NFL.
The way the Detroit Lions play defense, Jones would be a nice addition if he fell to them in the second round. With teams excited about his measurables, he will likely sneak into the lower first round. Jones does sound interesting and the potential is there, but 23rd overall seems a bit early for him. Should the Lions trade down in the first to acquire more picks, he could be a target for them to replace Rashean Mathis.