David Jones Scouting Report
Cornerback David Jones has an anonymous name, but he's been trying to stand out from the crowd while refusing to be pigeon-holed as a limited contributor on the football field.
Jones is a fourth-year NFL player who went from the small-school college ranks at Wingate to the Saints as a fifth-round draft pick in 2007. He joined the Bengals after New Orleans let him go following training camp that year. Jones didn't make much of an impression during his rookie year in Cincinnati, playing in just seven games mostly on special teams.
It was during Jones' second season in Cincinnati in 2008 when he began to contribute significantly. He played in 14 games with seven starts at left cornerback in place of injured Johnathan Joseph. Jones logged 44 tackles and a fumble recovery and ranked fourth on the team with seven passes defensed.
Jones, who turns 25 on Sept. 19, entered the 2009 training camp as the Bengals No. 3 cornerback and was ready to contribute as the team's fifth defensive back in nickel packages. But he missed the entire preseason and the first four games of the regular season due to a foot fracture suffered during the first week of camp. Jones returned to play in the final 12 games and the Wild Card playoff against the Jets, but mainly as a special teams contributor because rookie Morgan Trent squeezed him out of the cornerback rotation by moving ahead of him on the depth chart and into the nickel DB role.
Jones (6-0, 197) entered this year's training camp behind starter Leon Hall and Trent on the depth chart at right cornerback, and the Bengals during the offseason added cornerback Adam Jones, who since has emerged as Joseph's backup and the new nickel DB. When Trent intercepted three passes during a preseason game against the Eagles, that only confirmed for the Bengals that they had four corners who were more capable than David Jones, whose big play this preseason was returning an interception 24 yards for a touchdown in the preseason game against Denver.
Jones has yet to come up with his first regular-season interception after being a ball-hawking, two-time All-South Atlantic Conference cornerback. He wound up with 15 interceptions with 335 yards in returns and three touchdowns in 40 career games including 28 starts at Wingate from 2003-06.
Not only has Jones been unable to recapture the playmaking ability he flashed in college, he seemed to lose a step following his injury. Even before the setback, he seemed to have trouble turning his hips quickly when he went from a backpedal into a sprint and that seemed to be where receivers gained their greatest separation from Jones in coverage. Jones can be easily beaten on a slant route by a quick, savvy receiver.
But Jones' departure from Cincinnati is not necessarily an indictment of his abilities. With so many capable cornerbacks on the Bengals' roster, combined with a secondary that has been banged up at safety, Cincinnati was looking for a way to add a safety who can contribute immediately before the beginning of the regular season. By adding former Jaguars safety Reggie Nelson in exchange for Jones, Cincinnati found a way to make an upgrading trade in the secondary by operating from a position of strength.
Jones signed a one-year contract in April for a reported $1.101 million. He is scheduled to be a restricted free agent in 2011.
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