2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Sidney Jones
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: From watching college football last season, the best cover corner in the nation could easily have been Jones. In my opinion, he was better at preventing separation and allowing receptions than Marshon Lattimore or Marlon Humphrey, the consensus top-two cornerbacks in the nation. After suffering a torn Achilles at his pro day, Jones is a riskier selection, but he could end up being one of the steals of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jones was an impressive defender for the Huskies over the past three seasons. As a freshman, he had five pass breakups and two picks. In his sophomore year, Jones was excellent and one of the top cornerbacks in the nation. He recorded 10 passes broken up, four interceptions, 45 tackles and three forced fumbles. Jones continued his strong play with a shutdown junior season. In 2016, the junior recorded 39 tackles with six passes broken up, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He played really very well for Washington with sound coverage all year.
Jones is a tall corner who has long arms, quick feet, speed and physicality. He can match up with speed receivers and blanket them in and out of their breaks. Jones runs the routes with receivers and prevents them from getting separation. He has quick feet and is very agile, plus can flip his hips open and run with receivers down the field. Jones also is tall and physical to take on big receivers. He is an asset in the red zone and able to win on 50-50 throws. Jones also is a willing run defender.
The big concern with Jones is durability. He has a thinner frame and could have issues staying healthy in the NFL. His Achilles injury just compounds those concerns. Jones is optimistic that he will play as a rookie, but his injury could impact when he can practice and return to the field. Starting on the PUP - physically unable to perform - list and missing part of the 2017 season is possible.
In speaking with sources, Jones was the consistent third-rated cornerback for the 2017 NFL Draft prior to tearing his Achilles at his pro day. He now is unlikely to go in Round 1. The junior could easily go in the second or third round, though some in the league think the injury won't impact Jones and he still has a shot at going in the first round.
Player Comparison: Kevin Johnson. The best cover corner on the Texans last year wasn't A.J. Bouye, Kareem Jackson, or even Johnathan Joseph; it was Kevin Johnson. Johnson was playing at a Pro Bowl level before a foot injury ended his season after six games. The similarities between Jones and Johnson (6-0, 185) are uncanny. They are a almost identical in size. Both are tall, fast cover corners who are phenomenal at running the route to prevent separation. Johnson was the 16th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and Jones would have been taken there if his Achilles injury didn't happen right at his pro day.
NFL Matches: San Francisco, Chicago, Tennessee, New York Jets, Buffalo, New Orleans, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Washington, Detroit, Houston, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and New England
Jones would have been a top-20 pick without the injury, but now there are a lot more potential fits for him in 2017 NFL Draft. Picking high in the rounds on Day 2 are the Browns, 49ers and Bears, which all need corner help. Those teams are long ways from contending, so any of them could be patient with Jones and end up with a first-round talent. In the third round, Jones could be a fit for the Titans as they need a No. 1 cover corner for their defense. If they don't take a corner in the first round, Jones could be in play for them in the Round 3.
Jones could be an option for the Jets as they released Darrelle Revis this offseason and have a big need at cornerback. Staying in the AFC East, Jones could be in play for the Bills with the 10th-overall pick as they lost Stephon Gilmore in free agency.
The Saints could use more cornerback help for their defense, so they could consider taking Jones on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft.
In the middle of the second-day rounds, Jones has three potential landing spots. Philadelphia needs multiple cornerback upgrades and a No. 1 corner. Jones could be in play for the Eagles in the second or third round. The Colts need another corner to pair with Vontae Davis, and Jones could be a fit for them. The Ravens could use a corner upgrade to go with Jimmy Smith.
Washington could use a corner to team with Josh Norman and Kendall Fuller. Detroit needs an outside corner to pair with Darius Slay.
Houston needs a cornerback to replace A.J. Bouye, plus has Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph declining. The Texans would be a great landing spot for Jones as they could ease him back onto the field behind those veterans.
The Steelers could use more cornerback talent to go with Artie Burns. The Packers have a need at corner, and Jones would be a good fit in their defense.
New England signed Stephon Gilmore, but seem unlikely to sign Malcolm Butler to a long-term deal before he enters free agency next offseason. The Patriots could take their time with Jones and have him ready to replace Butler in 2018.
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