With the 2015 NFL season approaching, Byron Jones is emerging as a potential game-changer for the Dallas Cowboys in the upcoming year. The cornerback wasn’t expected to be a first-round draft pick a few months ago, but he’s looked very promising since being selected No.27 overall.
Jones started getting attention at the NFL Scouting Combine when he put on one of the best performances of any prospect. Not only did he set a combine record, but he set a world record in the broad jump at 12 feet, three inches. His 44.5-inch vertical jump also stood out, as Jones’ athleticism forced teams to take notice before the draft.
But after impressing scouts during a few drills, the question remained how Jones would do when he got on the field and started competing in actual games. While the start of the season is still a few months away, Jones continues to look good in OTA workouts.
“I don’t think we could have asked for more, sitting here today, than what he’s shown,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said last week. “He certainly has shown the athletic ability, which was a given, but he’s shown the instincts, shown the ability to have position flex of corner as well as safety. With those tall guys, a lot of times you have a little limitation in how you basically turn, and some of that.”
Jones didn’t do much in his last season at Connecticut. His senior campaign was cut short after just seven games when he suffered a shoulder injury, as he picked off two passes and registered 24 total tackles. Now that he’s healthy, he putting his incredible athleticism to use on the field.
A month ago, former Dallas quarterback Babe Laufenberg told the Dallas Morning News that he was most impressed by Jones when he watched one of the team’s offseason workouts.
“Byron Jones’ talent just jumps out at you,” Laufenberg said. "His athleticism, his burst, his fluidity. That doesn’t translate into being a shutdown corner Week 1, but there’s a few guys like DeMarcus Ware, you looked at him and said, 'Wow.' I hate to make the leap he’s DeMarcus Ware, but you look at Jones and he looks like a corner, he’s physical, he’s got the length, he’s got the tools going against bigger receivers. He’s played safety, and he’s been in a situation where he’s had to hit people.”
Even though Dallas won the NFC East last season, they are still in need of help at cornerback. The team ranked 26th in total passing yards allowed, and a hobbled Aaron Rodgers registered a 125.4 passer rating as the Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs. If Jones produces, he’ll get playing time, especially when the team turns to their nickel package.
“You couldn’t ask for a pick to pan out better than he’s panned out, much less being a first-round pick," Jones said. “He is everything as advertised.”