NFL Draft: Nothing fishy about cornerback prospect Byron Jones’ abilities
From TYLER DUNNE of the Journal Sentinel
~Green Bay — The world record doesn’t mean much at all to him. Sure, Byron Jones took the NFL scouting combine by storm with his 44½-inch vertical and record-setting 147-inch broad jump.
In the latter event gone viral, the Connecticut cornerback resembles a human pogo stick or some half-human, half-amphibian species. It was a leap perhaps worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records, but…so what?
“There are world records for everything — eating bananas in 5 minutes,” Jones said. “How many bananas can you eat? There’s a world record for that, I’m sure.”
No, Jones cares much more about his other skill. He declares himself the best bass fisherman in the Northeast. “Put that down,” he punctuates. His go-to lure is a regular Texas rig, a sinker with a 5-inch “Wacky Worm.”
Fake bait. No minnows, no earthworms.
“It works!” he said. “They love it. They bite it.”
The reason Jones has gained national acclaim, of course, is the 12-foot 3-inch broad jump. Athleticism absolutely differentiates Jones. The last two months, this 6-foot-1, 199-pound, safety-to-cornerback convert has been asked about the broad jump almost daily. Part of him is flattered by the reaction. Part of him wishes the discussion was about football.
There’s more to the prospect than one event.
“I’m blessed with this jumping ability,” Jones said. “But at the end of the day, I’m a football player. I don’t care about Olympic records, or whatever. I just want to play some ball.”
After starting 12 games at safety in 2012, Jones moved to cornerback in 2013 and finished with 60 tackles, eight pass breakups and three picks. Last season, in seven games before season-ending shoulder surgery, Jones had 24 tackles, four pass breakups and two interceptions.
First, Jones was meticulous in his film study starting with an opposition’s first- and second-down runs, then moving to play-action plays, then to third-down calls. He uses a play in a 31-21 loss to East Carolina as one example. By the formation, he knew a receiver was about to set a pick on him.
“So I played off one route,” he said, “and I was able to get a pass breakup on third down.”
Jones said he “definitely” can bring this element of his game to the NFL.
“Whoever you go against is athletic,” Jones said. “They’re just as fast as you, just as strong as you. So you have to find a way to get ahead and a lot of times that’s just film study.”
No question, athleticism is the ace up his sleeve. While he was able to work his legs in the weight room — which obviously showed — Jones trained specifically for the combine for only three weeks due to the torn labrum that ended his senior year.
No, he wouldn’t be required to leap-frog in Dom Capers’ defense in Green Bay. Even Jones admits a broad jump itself doesn’t transfer.
Yet it does hint at explosion. And his vertical — 3 inches higher than any other cornerback in Indianapolis — hints at a trait all NFC cornerbacks need.
In a division that features Calvin Johnson (6-5, 236), Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 216) and Martellus Bennett (6-6, 265), Jones might be an ideal jump-ball buster, while also possessing enough quickness to hang with Mike Wallace (4.33 seconds in the 40) and Golden Tate underneath. Jones’ time of 3.94 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle ranked third-best overall at the combine.
And as Packers draft picks past indicate — Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Nick Collins — general manager Ted Thompson prefers defensive backs who’ve played inside and outside and at safety.
“The more you can do for a team,” Jones said, “the longer you’re going to stay around. You have a short roster — 53 guys — so everybody has to do a little bit more than one thing.”
When he wasn’t reading a receiver’s splits, when he wasn’t fishing, Jones was a political science major and economics minor. He spent one summer interning in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut. Jones trained with the George Washington University women’s basketball team in the morning, swapped gym clothes for a suit and interned from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The experience was “challenging,” he said, even “eye-opening.” One of his primary jobs was to respond to mail — be it voice mail, email or letters.
If he were president of the United States, he’d have his first order of business ready…… Full story HERE