NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
The wounds have been licked, the pride is beginning to heal, and the shock has worn off from the picks the Patriots made over the weekend. Now that we know who the players are, it is time to see what they bring to the table and how they can help the team this year and beyond. I will start with the Patriots first pick of the draft, Cyrus Jones.
Name: Cyrus Jones (#5)
School: Alabama (Sr.)
Jones was a player that I had done a write up on pre draft (http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2016/03/scouting-report-cyrus-jones-cb.html) but I was able to talk with a friend who is a die hard Alabama fan who knows his stuff and here is what he had to say. “Jones was a coach favorite and a fan favorite. He was outgoing and confident in a good way and was considered a team leader and a player the coaches relied on to do the right things. He is fundamentally sound in both man and off coverage. He played bigger than his size and used it as motivation to prove to everyone he could cover the best despite his size. Jones is an electric special teams player and will contribute immediately there. He also said that he does not necessarily agree that Jones is a slot corner. He rarely played there in college and thinks he has the physicality and the awareness to hold up outside in the NFL. He did concede that despite good coverage, bigger targets were able to have success against Jones. Jones showed consistent improvement and confidence in his corner abilities and his best football is in front of him. ”
Jones ultimately ended with a 3rd/4th round grade for me and the 106 overall player on my board, so when the pick was announced I was a little disappointed. He had gotten a lot of buzz late in the process and a lot of Patriots fans really liked him. For me, his size is the biggest concern. The Patriots have had smaller corners in here before that have had great athleticism, but with the way the NFL is now, those type of guys are limited. His intangibles and his ability to be an instant contributor and potentially an impact player on special teams probably put him higher on the Patriots board than it did mine. I also am excited about the possibility of him continuing to get better in coverage. I like Cyrus Jones and I think he is a great fit for the Patriots and from everything I read, it seems most people really like this pick, so I am the outlier here, not the norm, and that is okay.
I don’t expect Jones to have a huge impact on defense in year one. It will be interesting to see where the Patriots have him line up in training camp and in preseason games. I like the pick better if he can compete for that #2 job, but size may force him inside. If that is the case, he could be in a rotation at the slot corner position and would see the field a decent amount of time. Where I see Jones making the biggest impact is on special teams, specifically as a punt returner.