By Leo Silbert
After 3 seasons at the University of Washington, corner back Sidney Jones decided that it was the time for him to declare for the NFL draft. He was one of the highest rated corners coming out this year which is also a year where corner back is one of, if not the, strongest position groups in years. One NFC East scout said that Jones seemed to have taken all of the good qualities from fellow former Husky and off-season workout buddy Marcus Peters, with none of the behavioral issues. He put up respectable numbers across the board at the combine and he seemed like a lock for the first round of the draft until he went to the ground during his pro day and had to be carted off the practice field.
The diagnosis ended up being a ruptured left Achilles tendon, a devastating blow to his draft stock. He went from being a potentially top half of the first round selection to being a mid-late round gamble on his ability to heal from this injury. The worst part about this injury is that it might rob him of some of his speed and quickness and eventually shorten his career length, but if he is taken by a team in the right situation, he can end up living up to his potential for pennies on the dollar. Now, he won’t be much use to a team that has an immediate need at the corner back position to make their defense improve since he may be unable to play until November, but he still has two types of teams that should be very interested in him.
The first group of teams who should be interested in him are teams who have good corner back groups already, but with aging members. As a Giants fan, the Giants were the first ones to come to mind to me here since they already have a very good trio of corner backs but with one member who is over the age of 30 and a contract that would save the team valuable cap space if it wasn’t on the books anymore with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. DRC is a great corner still and had one of his best seasons ever this past year, but he has a few issues going against him. Most importantly is that even though he will start just about every game, he is a player that can’t stay on the field for an entire game anymore. This past season, he only played 736 snaps while he only missed one game. His teammate Janoris Jenkins who missed most of 2 games on the other hand played 1,028 snaps. This means that the 4th string corner has to end up picking up most of the extra 292 snaps missed by DRC. Also, the Giants need to clear up some cap space in the upcoming off seasons so they can give second contracts to players such as Odell Beckham Jr, Landon Collins, Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg. The Giants also fit with their fondness for gambling corners as seen with both DRC and Janoris Jenkins. Other teams that also fit this type of mold are: The Denver Broncos with Aqib Talib, the Dolphins with Byron Maxwell, the Panthers with Captain Munnerlyn, the Patriots with Malcolm Butler if they decide not to pay him highly, the Raiders with Sean Smith, the Steelers with William Gay, the Texans with Jonathan Joseph and the Titans with Jason McCourty.
The other type of team that should be interested in Jones is the group of teams that are so talent deficient that a highly graded player joining or being hurt won’t affect their record much this season anyway. The team that leads this group is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns need capable bodies at positions across the board except for along their offensive line, at nose tackle and at weak side linebacker. They are a team no one expects to compete this season and is likely due for another top 5 draft pick next year. They are a team that has nothing to lose by gambling on such a talent as Jones is and in a few years if they build their team up to respectability, they may have a mid-round steal of a corner on their team helping to lead their defense. The list of teams here is a lot shorter since the league is at the closest level of competition across the board it has ever had so there are fewer teams that qualify for that, and one of the few teams that do qualify have a scheme where Sidney Jones’ lack of height and arm length make it so he doesn’t fit the scheme like how it is with the San Francisco 49ers. Other teams where Jones would fit with under this stipulation though are the Bears and Jets. If Jones is picked by any of these three teams, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if in 3 years he was helping to lead a great young defense.
Injuries suck in football, especially when they take away a player’s chance to get paid before they are even drafted. They could rob careers from reaching as high as they could potentially go and they can shorten or even end them early. Jones won’t have his career ended before it starts and with the proper attitude and system, he can end up as one of the best corner backs in the league, and his draft position will make whatever general manager pulled the trigger on drafting him look like a genius.