One of the best parts of the NFL draft is finding players who might not be the “best” in the draft, but are definitely fun to watch.
Arizona State cornerback Jack Jones certainly falls into that category. Jones is unlikely to be one of the first cornerbacks off the board in April. He’s undersized at 5-foot-11, 171 pounds, and has just “average” speed, with a 4.51-second 40-yard dash.
But he’s just plain fun. Jones plays the game like a Jack Russell terrier — with limitless energy, the twitchiness of a coiled spring, and the competitiveness of a much bigger dog.
Jones isn’t the big press-man corner many are mocking to the New York Giants this year, but could his energetic, aggressive play appeal to the hyper-aggressive Wink Martindale?
Prospect: Jack Jones (0)
Games Watched: vs. BYU (2021), vs. UCLA (2021), vs. Utah (2021), Washington State (2021)
Games Played: 38
Tackles For a loss: 2.5
Forced Fumbles: 5
Passes Defensed: 26
Games Played: 11
Tackles For a loss: 2.5
Forced Fumbles: 3
Passes Defensed: 6
Best: Quickness, agility, change of direction, competitive toughness, mental processing
Worst: Size, long speed
Projection: A starting slot corner with scheme diversity.
(Jones is Arizona State CB number “0”)
Arizona State cornerback Jack Jones has a good combination of quickness, agility, fluidity, and competitive toughness to play the slot position at the NFL level.
Jones typically aligned as an outside corner in Arizona State’s defense, though he has experience moving inside to the slot position as well. Jones played press-man, off-man, and zone coverages in ASU’s defense and executed each of those techniques well.
Jones has quick feet and loose, fluid hips for man coverage, allowing him to get in phase with the receiver and stay in tight coverage throughout the route. He also shows good hand usage in press-man coverage, firing quick, accurate jams into receivers to disrupt their timing without becoming tangled up.
Jones has a compact, quick, and balanced backpedal in both man coverage and to get depth in zone coverage. His fluid hips allow him to transition easily from his backpedal to running with the receiver, and he is able to do so without losing momentum.
He gets good depth in his zone drops and shows good discipline in picking up and passing off receivers moving through his zone of responsibility. Jones does a good job of keeping his eyes in the backfield and reacts quickly to what he sees. He has solid range in zone coverage and triggers quickly once he identifies where the ball is going. Jones also shows a good understanding of offensive concepts, rarely being fooled by misdirection or being caught in manufactured traffic.
Jones is an aggressive run defender who is fearless playing downhill. He is a willing and physical hitter and completely willing to take on blockers. He also shows some upside as a blitzing corner. While he didn’t rush often, he disguised his rushes well and showed good quickness and timing when shooting gaps.
Jones is likely to be limited to the slot at the NFL level, and is unlikely to be considered as an outside corner. His lack of height, length, mass, and play strength could all be liabilities when playing against NFL caliber wide receivers. At 5-foot-11, 171 pounds, he is significantly undersized and, while very competitive, will match up poorly against bigger wide receivers.
Likewise, Jones’ lack of size shows up in his run defense. He is, again, a very competitive defender, but he lacks the mass to beat bigger receivers’ blocks and can be moved off the ball.
Overall Grade: 6.9
Arizona State cornerback Jack Jones will almost certainly have to be a full-time slot corner at the NFL level. However, he has the traits to project as a starting slot corner for most defenses.
Given that the 11-personnel package is the base offense, and the nickel defense is the de facto base defense of the NFL, Jones’ ability to stay with the quickest and shiftiest of slot receivers throughout their routes. Jones has many of the traits to be an effective man coverage corner, though his lack of mass and length could get him in trouble playing on the line of scrimmage on the outside. And while he is very quick and fluid as a cover corner, he has merely average long speed, which can make it difficult for him to keep up with NFL receivers on vertical routes.
However, those quick feet and fluid hips will allow him to execute man coverage rules in zone coverages as a slot corner, giving his future defense more options for designing coverage schemes. Hi
Jones also has some upside as a blitzer for more aggressive defenses. He disguises and times his rushes well, and has plenty of quickness to shoot gaps before blockers can get in position to stop him.
And while Jones doesn’t come down with many interceptions, his quickness and competitiveness make him disruptive at the catch point. He will fight to knock the ball away from a receiver and make it very tough to “survive the ground”.
The fact that Jones is a “slot only” corner will likely knock him down draft boards, but he should be able to push for a starting job early in his career.