After recording his first interception just last season, third-year safety Byron Jones is trying to find unique ways to increase his takeaway total in 2017.
The Dallas Cowboys made a large investment towards the future of their defensive secondary during the 2015 NFL Draft by selecting Connecticut defensive back Byron Jones with the 27th overall pick in the first round.
Jones’ stock skyrocketed up draft boards prior to the event mainly do to an outstanding performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. In fact, the extremely talented athlete broke set a world record during his broad jump test, leaping an incredible 12-feet, 3-inches.
The Cowboys were hoping that unique athleticism would translate to success on the football field. And for the most part, it has. During Jones’ first season, the Cowboys coaching staff elected to use the first rounder all over the defensive secondary, playing at both corner and safety. He recorded 66 total tackles, nine pass defends and started 11 games for Dallas as a rookie.
Last offseason, the Cowboys elected to cement Jones at safety. Giving him the opportunity to focus at one position paid off, as Byron’s stats improved to post 88 total tackles, 10 pass defends and his first career interception while starting in all 16 games in 2016.
Jones’ special athletic abilities allow him to play multiple positions when needed as well as cover anyone across from him, from wide receivers to tight ends. Where his athleticism has not helped him is in takeaways.
Coming out of UConn, Jones’ lack of takeaways was a major concern. During his entire four years in college, he recorded just eight interceptions total. And in his first two seasons in the NFL, Jones has just one pick to show for it.
Knowing that his apparent stone hands were a major weakness he needed to address, Jones thought of an outside the box way to try and improve them. The starting NFL safety volunteered to catch fly balls for a local minor league baseball team earlier this month.
"“[Byron] Jones got his first interception last season but has focused diligently ways to improve his takeaways, even fielding fly balls with the minor-league Frisco Rough Riders just up the road from The Star in Frisco.” – DallasCowboys.com reported."
The fact Byron Jones is willing to go to these lengths to improve should have Dallas Cowboys fans excited about his potential as a ballhawk this season and in the years to come. In the past, the 24-year old has had several opportunities to come away with interceptions. But they slipped through his fingers, literally. Jones knows it’s an issue and appears willing to do just about anything to try and resolve it. Even if that means catching a batting practice or two.