Since coming to the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Auburn, Jonathan Jones has slowly become one of the Patriots’ top cornerbacks. So far in his career, Jones has put up impressive numbers, with 285 total tackles, 37 pass defenses, nine interceptions, eight forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. With the departures of top cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson in the past two seasons, Jones has had to step up, and he has.
This week the Patriots had no game due to their bye, which is coming at a good time midway through the season. New England came into their bye week off a satisfying win against the Colts. The win was especially rewarding for the defense, putting up nine sacks and a game-sealing pick six caught by Jones. On the pick, Jones exhibited great ball skills making a shoestring catch. Jones also had a blocked punt midway through the second quarter, which set up the offense beautifully to score their first touchdown of the game.
Early on in his career, Jones was more of a slot corner, now he can be seen lining up outside as well, showing off his versatility. The sixth-year corner has had a hot start to his 2022 season so far, with him being the highest graded cornerback in single coverage at the start of week five with a grade of 91.5. Jones has recorded 24 total tackles, four pass defenses, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a touchdown this season.
Back in Auburn, Jones exhibited excellent ball skills along with the ability to get off blocks and converge on the tackle. Jones could be seen lining up both outside and in the slot, much like he is doing in New England now. At Auburn, Jones put up impressive numbers with 129 total tackles, 24 pass defenses, seven interceptions, two forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. From interceptions to forced fumbles, Jones has been able to shift his ball hawking ability to the NFL successfully.
At the 2016 NFL Combine, Jones impressed many with his man coverage ability and speed, recording a 4.33 second 40 time. There were some concerns with Jones’ height, with him standing at only five-foot-nine, in a time where the league was starting to shift to taller, more rangy cornerbacks. Jones also had an injury history in college, suffering a broken ankle in 2013, a pulled hamstring in the 2014 BCS Championship game, and foot surgery in the summer of 2015. All these factors effectively pushed Jones’ draft stock down, being deemed an “average backup or special teamer” in his draft profile he ultimately went undrafted.
Jones then received a call from Bill Belichick for an opportunity to earn a roster spot. Jones ran with this opportunity, making the team as a depth player for his first couple of seasons, then having his first breakout season in 2018, as well as winning the Super Bowl. Since then, Jones has continued to make himself a staple of the Patriots defense.
Going into week 11, Jones and the Patriots will be hosting the New York Jets for a divisional matchup. Last time these two faced off, it was the Patriots defense who declared the game, with them collecting three interceptions in a 22-17 victory. The defense will hope to do something similar this time around, and Jonathan Jones will surely hope to get another pick himself this time around against New York.
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