Josh Jones was thrilled to be drafted by the Green Bay Packers, since he’d get to learn beside one of his favorite players, Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
“As soon as I can, I just want to work with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix,” Jones said after the Packers picked him in the second round of last month’s draft. “He’s a proven veteran in this game. I just want to get coached up, learn, pick the brains of him and just go to work and continue to build on my God-given abilities.”
Those comments didn’t surprise his defensive coordinator at North Carolina State, Dave Huxtable. Jones’ thirst for football knowledge was unquenchable and well known by those in the program.
“He’s just that kind of guy. He’s always watching football,” Huxtable said. “The players told me that he’s over in his apartment on his iPad and is always watching the football. I’m sure at nighttime, he’s watching NFL film, studying other safeties and always trying to learn the tools of the trade. That’s Josh.”
Jones was a three-year standout for the Wolfpack. During his final season, he ranked as one of the nation’s top run-stopping safeties while intercepting three passes and yielding no touchdowns in the passing game, according to Pro Football Focus.
Even after losing versatile Micah Hyde in free agency, Green Bay had one of the top safety groups in the NFL. Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett will be the starting tandem for the fourth consecutive season. Hard-hitting Kentrell Brice showed plenty of potential as a rookie, and fellow undrafted free agent Marwin Evans flashed athleticism and playmaking skills during the preseason.
Still, at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds and 4.41 speed in the 40, Jones should be an immediate contributor as an extra defensive back or an undersized linebacker. That will mean ample playing time with Clinton-Dix.
“It’s crazy,” Jones said on draft night. “I’ve been watching Ha Ha a lot. I was watching him before I played this past fall and he gave me a lot of motivation with the way he plays. I respect his game a whole lot. Him being a Pro Bowl safety and playing so great, I’m just so excited that I get an opportunity to play with a guy like that.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.