Blogging The Boys recently began to reach out to our sister sites around SB Nation in an attempt to learn a little bit more about the players the Cowboys selected in the 2015 NFL Draft. My colleague Aman Kidwai, who covers the Huskies for The UConn Blog, was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the Dallas Cowboys top selection, cornerback Byron Jones.
BTB: Thank you for sharing your observations of Byron Jones with us. As you have watched Jones develop over his time at UConn, what do you feel has been his greatest strength as a football player, and how have you watched that strength improve during his career as a Husky?
Byron Jones has always been a smart player, in addition to doing well in the classroom he was just as intelligent on the football field. The other promising thing to note is that he was basically a starter at safety since his redshirt freshman season. He moved to corner two years later because a couple of ours left to play on Sundays. He's a hard worker who understands the game really well and will do whatever his team needs him to.
BTB: As an athlete Jones more than proved himself during the NFL Combine, and his off the field activities have been will publicized. He seems to be an all around impressive young man, perhaps a potential leader for the Cowboys. What was his role as a leader in Paul Pasqualoni''s locker room?
He was a leader in Paul Pasqualoni's locker room, making the switch from safety to corner showed a team-first attitude from one of the best players on the team.
When Bob Diaco took over Jones was one of two players who came to AAC Media Day along with (6th round pick of the Giants) Geremy Davis. He was chosen by Diaco because he was a model student-athlete, and Diaco also called him one of the best defensive backs he's ever coached. This is pretty high praise when you consider some of the players he coached at Notre Dame.
There's an interview with Rolling Stone which mentions how his teammates affectionately call him "Mayor Jones" because he did an internship in Washington DC (http://www.rollingstone.com/sports/features/byron-jones-at-the-nfl-draft-the-mayor-makes-the-leap-20150428?page=2). He definitely has a lot of leadership potential.
BTB: According to some scouting reports that I have reviewed Jones is a sure tackler but yet those same people have also stated that he was not the most physical of defenders. What is your take on this?
I always thought he was a really physical player, he may not have used the best form when tackling but often when you're a cornerback you end up in awkward positions when you need to make a tackle. I don't remember any time where he had a tackle broken which he should have had, or let receivers past him after catching a ball.
BTB: From scouting defensive backs over the past few seasons I have noticed a lot of similarities in Jones and former teammate Blidi Wreh-Wilson who is now with the Tennessee Titans. Wreh-Wilson was a third-round selection while Jones was a first-rounder. What, in your mind, made Jones a much more attractive pick than his former teammate?
The mind-blowing combine and workout numbers would be my guess. When such an instinctive player also has the size and athleticism which scouts covet, and he has great character and academic fortitude as well, there's just too much to like. There were some coaches who really liked him even before the combine, but after the world-record broad jump and the 44.5-inch vertical leap and the 4.36 40-yard dash at pro day he (understandably) blew up.
BTB: It is time for me to put you on the spot. Dallas needs help at corner, but they also need a centerfielder at safety. Jones has experience at both positions. Where do you see him finding his ultimate fit in the NFL?
I'm a little torn on this one. When he had less hype I thought he might find a fit as a free safety, but now coaches do see him as a press corner. I think Jones is set on being a corner. He has put in the work to be one of the most athletic players at his position and there is no doubt he will be a film room junkie. I think he knows how valuable being good at that position is compared to safety, and will work as hard as possible to make it as a corner.
BTB: Is there anything which we have not covered that you think our readers would be interested to know about Byron Jones?
He's just such a great guy who has so many good things going for him, and he was a Connecticut high school product as well so we are particularly proud of him. There is actually a solid crew of defensive players from UConn in the NFL, but Jones is the highest draft pick from the defense in our (short) history, hopefully he can make his mark.