I’m Sold On: Byron Jones, Cornerback
Being the first round selection on any NFL team is a daunting task. The expectations are obviously through the roof. Being the first round pick for America’s Team is even more intense due to their immense popularity and history of success.
More from The Landry Hat
- Cowboys Rumors: Is Ezekiel Elliott on verge of joining AFC contender?
- 3 ways Cowboys’ Dak Prescott can have a bounce-back season in 2023
- Cowboys News: Dallas sets pre-draft visit with potential Dalton Schultz upgrade
- NFL executives heaping praise on offseason is uncharted territory for Cowboys
- 3 free agent signings from NFC East rivals that left Cowboys fans laughing
For his first three seasons in Dallas, former 2015 first round selection defensive back Byron Jones struggled to live up to that lofty draft status. Shifting between different positions in the secondary his rookie year, the Cowboys coaching staff cemented Jones at free safety his second season, hoping the focus on a single position would improve his play.
His rookie year, the versatile Jones posted 66 total tackles, nine pass defends and zero interceptions. At safety, those numbers jumped to 88 combined tackles (73 solo, 15 assists), 10 pass defends and a single interception in his second season.
Last year, Jones’ play declined ever so slightly, dropping to 82 total tackles (57 solo, 25 assists), five pass defends and one pick six. In the offseason, new passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach Kris Richard convinced the 26-year old safety to move back to corner. And the results have been terrific.
Through three games, Pro Football Focus has graded Jones as the top coverage cornerback in the NFL with an elite grade of 91.0. Stat-wise, the fourth-year defender has racked up 16 total tackles and two pass defends. Despite the low numbers, it’s undeniable that the move back to corner has revitalized what was a fairly stale career.
Despite having recorded only two career interceptions in four years, Jones could be in line for a massive contract extension if this level of play is maintained throughout the entire season. Fortunately for Dallas, they did pick up his fifth-year option, making him a Cowboy through 2019.