- Oct 2, 2007
- Reaction score
- Down the lane
How Patriots rookie Jack Jones can become an elite CB, according to ASU coach Herm Edwards
Jack Jones has just about everything he needs to be a CB1. Can he and Bill Belichick make it happen?
Edwards had a message for Jones: “You have to be selfish.”
“This is when you have to be selfish as a football player,” Edwards told Jones. “Everything has to be about this right now: your focus, your preparation, your time. It all has to go into this.”
Jones was reliable for ASU. He rose the ranks to serve as their top cornerback in 2021, often working in man coverage to blanket the top receivers in the Pacific-12 Conference. He was always on time for meetings and practices. He also graduated from ASU, which isn’t something that every college draft prospect does. Jones’ final year at ASU was impressive for a number of reasons, not only when looking at his body of work in a vacuum — but also when considering the setbacks he overcame.
Jones joined the Sun Devils in 2019 after a stint at Moorpark College. He was at the junior college because USC dismissed him for academic reasons — and in between USC and Moorpark, he was charged and arrested for burglary, a felony that a court changed to a misdemeanor after he pled guilty.
“I learned from it,” Jones said during a videoconference call with reporters after the draft. “I’m looking forward to moving forward. I’m not really worried about the past.”
In response to questions about that incident, Edwards kept impressing the importance of Jones graduating from ASU.
“I mean, think about that: he flunks out one place and graduates at another,” Edwards said during a phone call with Patriots Wire. “The way that he matured and developed has helped him tremendously. His arrows are going in the right direction.”
Edwards added: “I just think where he came from. He was at an all-time low when we brought him in and visited with him. (It’s about) kind of where he’s at and where’s he’s gotten to. And it’s taken a lot of work on his part, too.”
That he graduated seemed to show his maturation past a phase when he was a student-athlete who wanted to be more of an athlete than a student — both in the classroom and the film room. Jones joined USC as a five-star recruit out of high school and enjoyed immediate success.
“Sometimes talent can be a curse,” Edwards said. “I just think that he needs a place with structure and this place (the Patriots) will give him structure.”
So Bill Belichick and the Patriots are just right for Jones.
“Honestly, he’s going to a place where — when you think about the system and how they use their players — I think it’s a good fit for him,” Edwards said. “I think he needs that type of fit. He needs the strictness of what’s asked to do, of what’s required.”
Jones is a special athlete at 5-foot-11 with a 6.9-second 3-cone (comparable to Julian Edelman) and a 4.52-second 40-yard dash time. His wingspan is 74 inches (6-foot-2). And he’s also the type of athlete who can translate those physical tools into high-quality play on the field. He reads quarterbacks well. He transitions well with receivers in and out of the breaks in routes. He is a willing and fearless tackler. He’s almost the total package on the field.
The only box his athletic profile doesn’t check is weight. He’s skinny at 175 pounds — and so, surely, New England will work to bulk him up in 2022. That’s the first point of uncertainty Jones will need to address on his path to turning himself into the team’s next CB1.
“He’s got to be more focused as a player and the little things have to matter, especially at the next level for him,” Edwards said.
That was a work in progress at ASU.
“The more he understood that to refine yourself and the skills that are required — how to play the position at the next level and to play at a high level in college, you’re going to have to prepare more. And I think he started to understand that, especially this season which was a pretty good season,” Edwards said.
Jones lined up on the outside for the Sun Devils. New England likes to have a player who can play multiple positions — and maybe Jones will, eventually. But the Patriots badly need help on the outside. That’s why Jones could immediately see playing time in a rotation with Malcolm Butler and Jalen Mills. He also played in a lot of man coverage. That’s a good sign for a cornerback. Lockdown cornerbacks need to excel in man coverage.
“He has enough talent. It won’t be because of talent,” Edwards said. “It will just be his ability to process the information and then do it in practice and apply it in a game — over and over and over. I think he understands that.”
In Jones, Belichick has every ingredient he needs to cook up an elite cornerback — which isn’t typical for a fourth-round draft choice. It will be on Belichick and Jones to work together in making the cornerback the latest success story in New England’s secondary.