Former Ole Miss CB/WR Derrick Jones

Derrick Jones was drafted by the New York Jets in the sixth round of the NFL Draft

Derrick Jones spent his four-year Ole Miss career in a constant state of flux.

Jones alternated between cornerback and wide receiver, though he ultimately settled in on defense as a senior. Jones played in nine games with three starts. He tied for second on the team with five passes defended, and he was second on the team with two interceptions.

At long last, he finally found a permanent position. Now he has a professional future. Jones was drafted by the New York Jets in the sixth round (204th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft. He signed with the team May 5, a contract with a total max value of a little over $2.5 million.

“It feels great,” Jones said. “It feels like all my hard work has paid off.”

Jones signed with Ole Miss as a three-star prospect in 2013. He was rated the No. 89 wide receiver in the country. He was a member of a Rebel recruiting class that included, among others, five-star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.

But with depth at the position, Jones was moved to cornerback. He played in nine games as a true freshman with four starts, and he quickly earned praise from then-Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, who raved of Jones’ NFL potential.

Former Ole Miss CB/WR Derrick Jones

However, Jones was moved back to wide receiver a year later following a season-ending knee injury to Treadwell. His junior season was a wash. Though he played in every game with one start at wide receiver, his most meaningful contributions came on special teams. All in all, he totaled six catches for 120 yards and one touchdown.

“I just feel like cornerback is more of my position because of the attributes I have,” the 6-foot-2, 188-pound Jones said. “I’m long, I can run and I have the ability to cover and realize what routes are coming my way.”

Jones impressed in the lead-up to the draft, culminating in a strong showing at Ole Miss Pro Day in April. He ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, and he posted a 41-inch vertical jump. His 11-foot mark in the broad jump also dazzled the some 50 NFL scouts in attendance.

The Jets, along with a host of other organizations, took notice. The Jets, however, held a private workout with him. The rest is history.

Derrick Jones/USA TODAY images

“They said that they liked that I was a long corner, that I can play press-man well,” Jones said. “That’s what they do, so they’re glad to have me.”

First up for Jones is rookie mini-camp. He’s already reported. Training camp follows in July.

“It was a great day overall,” Jones said. “But I had no clue what round I’d be drafted or anything like that. I kept praying, and God answered my prayers.

“I’m definitely excited. It’s like I get to start over fresh again and show them what I can do. I come from Eupora. I’m just excited for myself (and) excited for my hometown that they get to see someone they personally know play in the NFL.”

He’s realized his dream. And he’s back at cornerback, where it all started four years ago. Although this time there won’t be any moving around.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve got to thank coach Wommack for bringing me over and believing in me from day one. When I first went to defense, I barely could backpedal. He still had the confidence to believe in me and say I was going to be an NFL cornerback. I definitely salute him for that. I thank him for believing in me.

“I’m definitely a Rebel for life. I’m going to be Ole Miss from here on out, forever. It can be 2020 and if you ask me a question I’m still going to be a Rebel.”

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