Now, as a lot of Green Bay Packers fans will tell you, Dom Capers sucks and should get fired for arbitrary reason 1, 2, 3, etc. The fact of the matter is, whether or not he’s a good coach, he was severely short handed in the last few games of the season, if not all season long at the cornerback position.
While rain blows down upon me about defending Ernest Dominic Capers, the simple fact is that Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins have yet to become legitimate NFL corners, while Ladarius Gunter was an undrafted rookie free agent who ran a 4.69 40 in his first attempt at the combine. Luckily he improved that to a 4.65 at his Pro Day. Green Bay also played Morgan Burnett at corner during the playoffs and, in an extremely bold move by Capers, inserted a fake player (Marwin Evans) in at strong safety in Burnett’s place during the NFC Championship game. Clearly the secondary, namely cornerback, needs to be addressed again, sadly.
This is where Sidney Jones comes in. The cornerback from Washington has been a major part of the Huskies’ resurgence, along with the rest of their vaunted defense. Jones is a bit of an intriguing player, and someone the Packers should certainly take a look at near the end of the 1st round. Let’s take a look why.
While Washington doesn’t do anything too complicated in the secondary (you don’t need to when you have three Day-2 or better players in your secondary), they mainly play 2 Man, Cover 1 or Cover 3. Jones always aligns on the defense’s left, and a good majority of the time is lined up in press coverage. However, he rarely tries to jam the receiver, rather he plays a bit of the “basketball” technique you’ll hear about when watching Richard Sherman play.
Both Washington corners do a good job of shrinking the space between them and the sideline on deep routes. The press and bail technique they use allows them to keep eyes on the quarterback, but also squeezes the receiver into the sideline on non in-breaking routes.
Jones also looks comfortable in off coverage. He has the ability to sink his hips and drive on throws in front of him. This type of versatility will help Jones at the next level.
Jones isn’t a one-dimensional performer, however. He’s also active in the run game, and is a willing tackler, despite not having the most substantial of size behind him. He’s also willing to jam in underneath zone concepts.
Jones is listed at 6’0” and 181 pounds, and it’s pretty evident when watching Jones play that he could use some more rocks in his pants. However, he doesn’t allow that to impact his ability to play against the run.
While I mentioned that Jones attempts to be physical, he gets moved by bigger receivers off of the line of scrimmage due to his slight build. This will be a point of emphasis for an NFL strength and conditioning team to bulk Jones up to be able to play how he’s comfortable.
While I’m currently unsure of where Jones ranks among cornerbacks for me at this point, he’s certainly in play for the Packers. He’s above the 5103 (5’ 10-3/8”) threshold they use at the position, and with Dom Capers’ attacking style, press-bump and run coverage should be a role that Jones is familiar with. Also, we all know that Teddy T has an affinity for Pac 12 defenders, so that’s also in play. Jones could certainly be an upgrade over every corner on the roster with the exception of Sam Shields, pending that he’s able to play again.
While I don’t believe that Thompson will be looking at a cornerback in the first round, Jones is definitely someone to keep in mind as the Draft inches closer. I’m curious to see how fast he runs in Indianapolis, and my guess would be between 4.45-4.5 range. Jones would fit right in with the Packers defense, which is predicated on disrupting offensive drives with sacks or interceptions.
We’re only 82 days away from the NFL draft! Let’s get ready for the ride.