Over the next few months, we’ll be looking at prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft from a decidedly Cowboys point of view. Taking the Cowboys current personnel, draft position, scheme, and needs into consideration; defensive line, linebacker, defensive backs, as well as complementary offensive pieces at wide receiver, tight end, and perhaps right tackle, we hope to profile the majority of the potential prospects that could realistically end up as Cowboys within the first two rounds. Once the “official visits” start to leak we’ll add prospects that are possibilities in the later rounds.
#26 Sidney Jones - Cornerback - Washington - 6-0, 181
Games Watched: USC, Colorado, Oregon, Arizona St., Washington St.
Pros: Very polished, clean technique; comfortable playing in off, press, zone, or man coverage. Smooth back pedal and light on his feet. Was not challenged often but showed impressive ball skills when he was, naturally able to track the flight of the ball in the air and has good leaping ability to be able to make a play on the ball at its highest point. Good change of direction, easily flips his hips to be able to turn and run with receivers. Natural instincts in zone/off coverage, knows when to push up, when to drop, and shows excellent ability to plant his back foot and drive on the ball (click and close). Has enough athleticism and speed to carry receivers across the field. Mirrors receivers well with clean footwork. Arguably the best defensive back on what may have been the best secondary in the nation in 2016. Despite not having ideal bulk he does a good enough job of jamming receivers at the line. Generally willing tackler who will stick his nose in a pile but his tackling form needs refinement and consistency, also lacks physicality and aggression in the run game at times. Has the necessary height and length to meet the new prototype of today’s tall/long NFL cornerbacks. Showed the ability to effectively blitz off the edge on occasion.
Cons: Despite having ideal height and length, he has a slight frame and lacks bulk. Was “out-physicaled” at times by bigger college receivers, which could obviously be a bigger issue in the NFL, not to mention in run support. Struggles to get off blocks in the run game despite his willingness to tackle. Not an explosive athlete, I’ll be curious to see how he tests at the Combine because I wonder if his extremely polished/smooth technique and little wasted motion makes him seem more athletic and faster than he actually is. Exclusively played left outside cornerback in 2016, doesn’t project as being able to play in the slot, is he as comfortable on the right side as he is on the left?
Conclusion: In a very strong cornerback class this is one of the best and most complete players at the position. How he runs at the Combine will likely dictate whether he goes in the top 15-20 or somewhere between 20-32, but either way he should be a first-round lock. If available at 28 he will have to be given strong consideration, especially if neither Brandon Carr or Morris Claiborne are retained, but if there is a similarly-rated front seven player available it’d be my preference to go in that direction and then look to add cornerback depth later in the draft. With that said, if Jones becomes a Cowboy on April 27th I couldn’t complain, he looks like a 10-year NFL starter. He projects well as an outside corner in almost any scheme, and looks like he should be able to contribute from day one, he also has the size and length to play the Cover-3 style that Seattle has made so popular, and that the Cowboys want to run. He might never be one of the elite of the elite at the position, but if he can add a bit of size and strength he looks like he has all the tools to match up with number one receivers week in and week out.
I do not have access to coach’s film or anything of that nature, I just watch plenty of football (television broadcast version) and go off what I see out of a prospect. I started this odd fascination of mine in 2011 when I sent my breakdown and links to videos of Tyron Smith at USC to the excellent Cowboys blogger Bob Sturm (April 28, 2011 - Even More Tyron Smith Tape). Since then I’ve continued watching prospects closely, but I’ve never taken the initiative to actually formally write my thoughts until I became a writer for BTB. I hope that I can provide an interesting, and accurate perspective on prospects from a Cowboys-centric point of view.
Special thanks to DraftBreakdown for posting the videos that help provide a more an in-depth look at this year’s prospects.