If you visit Pro Football Focus and take a look at the current cornerback grades, you will find a familiar name in the top spot: Jonathan Jones.
The New England Patriots’ longest-tenured cornerback has indeed had a good season so far, and PFF has awarded him with a 85.6 overall grade. That’s a pretty good one, but not something Jones’ position coach is particularly enthusiastic about.
“I don’t look too much into the whole PFF, Pro Football Focus,” Patriots cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino told reporters on Tuesday. “I know my guy. I know Jon’s a good football player. And that’s what he is, he’s a good football player.”
Jones has shown just that time and again throughout his career. An undrafted free agent in 2016, he developed into a reliable player on both defense and special teams. Now 96 games into his professional career, he is a two-time Super Bowl champion and an established starter in the New England secondary.
That said, his role still looks a lot different this year compared to years past. After primarily serving as a slot cornerback the last few years, he has been moved to the outside this season.
Jones has answered the call, and then some. He has given up just six receptions on 12 targets for 121 yards and no touchdowns. Additionally, he has been active around the ball: Jones caught an interception and also forced a pair of fumbles.
All of that does not come as a surprise for Pellegrino.
“I’m not looking at all the stats and whatnot, but I will say I’m not surprised with his ability to play football,” he said. “The guy’s an ultimate competitor. He’s a quiet worker, he goes out there and gets the job done and competes. Every bone in his body is about competition out there on the field. There’s nothing he loves more than going out there and getting an opportunity to go against somebody. I love that about him.
“The guy’s an absolute tough football player. He’s smart, tough, dependable. He’s versatile and I appreciate everything he’s doing and has done in the past.”
Moving from current and previous contributions to the future, it is obvious the Patriots will continue counting on Jones to play a prominent role in their defense. While the unit is lacking a true No. 1 corner after losing Pro Bowler J.C. Jackson in free agency, the veteran has certainly played at a level deserving of that label.
Just ask the folks at PFF. Or Mike Pellegrino.