CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md. -- Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.) traveled to Fairmont Heights (Capitol Heights, Md.) Sept. 24 for a Prince George’s County matchup. Terrapin Times was on hand to interview injured Potomac corner and Maryland commit Deon Jones, a 6-foot-2, 182-pound four-star.
An interview with Jones can be viewed above, while below is our evaluation from last year when the corner was at Carroll (Washington, D.C.):
There’s a reason the class of 2017 corner Jones is considered one of the top corners in the region. Provided he continues developing, he possesses the qualities elite-level programs are searching for in a potential shut-down cornerback. That said, Jones does not have elite speed, so it’s possible he could move to safety down the line.
Physically, Jones certainly passes the eyeball test at 6-2, 182-pounds. He has the size, as well as the relative strength, to match up with most receivers. Moreover, Jones has relatively long arms and a solid vertical, the latter quality allowing him to rise up with taller wideouts.
Between the lines, Jones operates in both press and zone. He performs ably in each, meaning his game should translate well to the next level.
In man coverage, Jones is active at the line, readily working to jam the wideout. It’s clear he’s unafraid of getting beat as he trusts his technique and ability to alter receivers’ routes.
The Carroll corner possesses plenty of short-area quickness, helping him to readjust; turn and run; and keep up with fleet-footed wideouts. He’s nimble and fluid, actively flipping his hips and taking the proper steps in coverage. Plus, Jones is able to maintain inside position downfield. He works to stay on the wideout’s inside hip, and then properly uses his hands to ensure they don’t gain too much separation.
Then, when rising up, Jones works for the ball; he is unyielding in the air. His strength and vertical come into play here, the Carroll product out-muscling and out-leaping receivers for jump balls.
On top of that, Jones has relatively soft hands. If he gets both mitts on the ball he’s going to come down with the pick.
In zone, Jones displays a smooth, natural backpedal. His steps are second nature, and his loose hips allow him to quickly change direction. He’s able to mirror most routes, flashing the ability to run laterally on crossing patterns or track downfield on deep balls.
But Jones does some of his best work coming downhill. He has an explosive first step, aiding him when shooting forward to undercut. Jones is able to sit back on an island, anticipate wideouts’ moves, and then bee-line in for the breakup.
Furthermore, Jones is an aggressive tackler. He’ll readily angle in to cut down backs on the edge, either wrapping up himself or at least halting forward progress so his teammates can clean up.
To improve, Jones mainly has to become more consistent with his fundamentals -- in particular his footwork. Sometimes he’ll cross his steps when switching on and off receivers, compromising his positioning. Also, Jones can get caught flat-footed in zone when he misreads a pattern.
The latter can be a problem when a wideout takes him deep. Jones is fairly quick, but he doesn’t possess elite recovery speed. It’s not necessarily a problem in high school, but at the next level he could be taken to task if he’s unable to master his technique.
In press, Jones has to make sure he doesn’t get caught peeking into the backfield too often. It’s evident he likes to read quarterbacks’ eyes, but FBS signal callers are privy to such tricks of the trade.
In addition, the D.C. corner must continue working on route recognition. He seems to have solid instincts, but Jones can be hesitant from time to time when receivers run more complicated patterns, including double-moves.
Last but not least, Jones has to keep adding strength and building his body. He certainly matches up well with wideouts in high school, but will need more mass to deal with No. 1 Division I pass catchers.null