While there is always going to be mystery when it comes to the NFL Draft, over the years the Dallas Cowboys have done their fans a bit of a favor and tipped their hands so to speak. Not only have they (not once, but twice) given us a look at their draft boards after that year’s draft was completed, but in their actions they’ve also alerted us to some key tells about their actions. In our must-read post from earlier in the off-season "6 Draft Tendencies and Tells" we listed the following:
This is by no means an end-all be-all list. Morris Claiborne wasn’t invited to the Ranch, and Dallas spend two picks to acquire him. Maybe the lack of development their helped guide their hand recently, as eight of their picks over the last two years were in for official visits. In that vein, we’ll be bringing you in-depth looks at the draft candidates that Dallas schedules for visits, so that you can be better informed about the small sample size many of the next group of Cowboys will likely come from.
Name: Byron Jones Position: Cornerback School: University of Connecticut Height: 6’1” Weight: 199 LBs Intangibles/Honors: Team captain – 2014 American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team – 2013 Economics Major Played both Safety and CB at UConn Played QB, WR, and DB in High school. pSparq Score: 150.1 Z-Score: 3.2 NFL Percentile: 99.9 pSparq is an approximation of the “Sparq Score” metric invented by NIKE (with the help of former USC and current Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, Pete Carroll), designed as a way to standardize athletic testing of High School athletes and interpret their athleticism with a sport specific formula. By standardizing a single metric composed of multiple athletic test results, it becomes possible to compare players to the athletic testing scores of players in past draft classes, and to provide context as to how a player will compare athletically to his peers at the NFL level. The Z-Score represents the number of standard deviations (sigma) above or below the mean at a particular position that player falls, 84% of players will have a Z-score of less than 1, 98% will have a Z-score of less than 2, and 99.87% will fall below a Z-Score of 3. There are currently a total of four players who are “3 Sigma Athletes” in the NFL, J.J. Watt, Calvin Johnson, Evan Mathis, and Lane Johnson, along with one from the 2015 draft class, Byron Jones. For more on pSparq,(and the man behind the math Zach Whitman) check out 3sigmaathlete.com
Measurables vs others at his position:
Games Studied: East Carolina, South Florida Coverage: Byron Jones is the rare player who puts up insane athletic measurable numbers, and plays in pads like the kind of athlete he is in shorts and a t-shirt. Jones plays with the speed, leaping ability and lateral quickness of a top-flight small CB, while standing over 6’ and weighing nearly 200 lbs. He plays like a bully at the line of scrimmage, in spite of the fact that he played with a shoulder injury he sustained in camp prior to the start of his senior season. He redirects his man, flattening their release when they want to run a slant, or forcing them wider than they want to be on the go route, leaving the QB with very little room to make the throw. He plays the outside lane in Cover 3 very well, and his physicality, explosiveness and length allow him to shrink the window between his underneath zone and the safety in Cover 2. He does have some technical work to do when he plays off the WR, as he’ll get too grabby as the WR reaches him, but that could be something he was taught at UCONN. He has very high level of football intelligence to recognize what the WR is trying to do as well as good ball skills (8 INTs and 21 Passes Defended in his career, 5 INT/12 PD his last 2 years). Run Support: Jones is a willing player in run support and shows the ability to finish plays, although I believe the shoulder injury he played with in 2014 kept him from showing the kind of tackling he’ll demonstrate at the NFL level. His size and length will help him force the ball back inside of him as well.
Conclusion/Cowboys Projection: Byron Jones is everything the Cowboys should be looking for at cornerback. The size, athletic ability, competitiveness and football intelligence make him the prototypical “Garrett Guy” and if he is available at 27 he would be a no-brainer pick. QBs and WRs have very long days playing against him, and that would be a welcome presence in the back end of the Cowboys defense. Given his college experience at Safety, his explosiveness and his ball skills, he would be a guy I would consider looking long-term to transition to the true free safety position that the Cowboys defense has lacked in recent years.
Tyrone Crawford is scheduled to be there. Tony Romo has pitched in with autographed swag. The burgers have a Texas flavor and we have 80 beers available ... all served while you watch the NFL Draft with Cowboys fans just like you on the 200-inch screen at our Watch Party at The Maverick Bar at 1616 Hebron ...
Make plans to join the gang on Thursday, April 30 for our CowboysHQ.com Draft Party!
CowboysHQ.com reported weeks ago that the Jones family is buzzing about the idea of drafting a QB. Keep an eye out for reports of Dallas looking under every rock for mid-round prospects ... Our Cowboys Crunchtime Podcast series is here, featuring Fish, KD Drummond, Bob Sturm and more ... Mark Lane has fun with "The Top 10 Traitors in Cowboys History.'' ... How do Dallas' national visits coordinate with who they eventually drafts? KD examines. ... Keep it right here at CowboysHQ for hard-hitting commentary and outstanding analysis. ... Hungry for some understanding of how the Cowboys front office really operates? "Jerry and his Cornerstones'' gives you answers. ... Want more Cowboys Draft Profiles? Click here!