It is being reported that the Dallas Cowboys intend to pick up the fifth-year option on defensive back Byron Jones soon. But is doing so a mistake?
The Dallas Cowboys have been praised for their first round selections on the offensive side of the ball for the past few years. Pro Bowlers like left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick, right guard Zack Martin and running back Ezekiel Elliott are all on the roster as former first rounders.
Unfortunately, first round selections on the defensive side of the ball haven’t worked out as well. And that really started in 2012 when the Cowboys traded up to the sixth overall pick to draft Morris Claiborne. The LSU cornerback struggled to stay healthy during his time in Dallas as he’s now considered one of the biggest bust in franchise history.
The jury is still out on last year’s top pick, defensive end Taco Charlton. Although the Michigan pass rusher showed flashes during his rookie campaign, the Cowboys drafted Charlton 28th overall despite the fact they considered him a developmental project and even had a second round grade for him. And the rookie played like one.
Just like Charlton, many are unsure about former first round selection defensive back Byron Jones and his place on the team. And that’s extremely disturbing considering the fact Jones is going into his fourth season in Dallas.
After his draft stock exploded following an epic performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, in which he unofficially broke the world record at the standing broad jump (12-feet, 3 inches), Jones was the Cowboys 27th overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.
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After playing both cornerback and safety during his rookie season, Dallas cemented Jones at free safety for the past two years. In that time, he’s recorded 170 combined tackles, 15 pass defends, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one defensive touchdown.
But last season, the Cowboys coaching staff started to substitute former sixth round pick Kavon Frazier in for Jones, swapping in and out every other series. The fact is Byron has always been a willing tackler but struggles with his angles. And during his time in Dallas he has shown next to no football instincts to pair with his world class athleticism.
This offseason, it was believe the Cowboys were considering moving Jones back to corner after his failed stint at safety. That move has all but confirmed by the player himself recently.
With the hiring of former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator and Legion of Boom orchestrator Kris Richard as Dallas’ new secondary coach and passing game coordinator, there seems to be renewed hope for the former first round selection.
Richard is know for working well with bigger cornerbacks. And Jones seems to fit that bill at 6’0″, 205 pounds. In fact, this could be a career-saver for the 25-year old.
On the heels of his rumored position switch, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Cowboys are expected to pick up the fifth-year option for Jones. And many fans may be wondering why. Is it a mistake to do so? Well, money might be the answer.
Currently a safety, the Cowboys would only have to pay Jones $6.17 million in 2019. If he was considered a corner, they’d be forking over a whopping $9.1 million for his services. That’s a pretty big discount. Throw in his position shift and new defensive back coach in Richard and picking up his fifth-year option suddenly seems like an easy decision for the Dallas’ brass.
But make no mistake. Byron Jones is playing for his job in 2018. He’s underwhelmed as a former first round selection. And if this shift back to cornerback doesn’t bare fruit this season, I’m not sure Jones will be on the Dallas Cowboys roster in 2019 regardless of his contract.