New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones did not get drafted because he stood at 5’9, 186 pounds at the NFL combine and nothing he did was able to impress the scouts.
It didn’t matter that Jones ran a 4.33s 40 yard dash, the fastest at the combine for a defensive back. It didn’t matter that Jones threw up 19 reps on the bench press, the most at the combine for a defensive back. It didn’t matter that Jones recorded 30 pass break-ups and 7 interceptions in his two years as a starter in the SEC.
Jones went undrafted and the Patriots took a chance that is seriously paying off.
“He’s done a good job for us,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said about Jones. “He’s played primarily inside but he can play both. He’s played both outside and inside. He’s got good catch up speed and does an excellent job of finishing. He has really good awareness of the receiver’s hands, the timing of the throw, when to reach for the ball, not to get interference calls, try to get into the pocket of the receiver and so forth. He’s got good speed, and good quickness and he’s a tough kid. You see that in the kicking game. You see it on defense, too. He’s tough.”
Jones carved out a role as a core special teams player for the Patriots before earning more time on defense in the wake of the injuries to Eric Rowe and Cyrus Jones. Jonathan Jones plays inside and outside and the coaches seem to call his number whenever the opposing team has a speedy receiver that needs to be covered deep down the field, just like this week’s opponent with the Miami Dolphins and receiver Kenny Stills.
Jones uses his speed to stay in the pocket of receivers and close in to break up any passes in his direction, with his 8 passes defended ranking second on the team. Belichick believes that Jones’ speed helps to compensate for the cornerback’s lack of height, too, and that is something that makes Jones unique.
“I’d say there’s no such thing as too much speed,” Belichick said. “It doesn’t exist. You can’t coach that, either.”
Jones ranks second on the team in special teams snaps and third for cornerbacks, behind only Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore. He has his role and he continues to shine.
And that will only lead to more opportunities for Jones.