Jones infuses speed, versatility into needy secondary

Josh Jones isn't a finished product, but his shortcomings are correctable and his athletic ability should have fans excited. 

Maybe it was the tape from the NFC championship loss at Atlanta. Or the miserable early-season struggles defending the big play. Or the tendency to offer no answers for speed. Maybe it’s all of those factors combined, but at this point it’s clear that the Packers’ front office is dead set on getting faster. 
 
To that end, second-round pick Josh Jones is a fresh step in the right direction. 
 
Jones’ development may require some patience, but just about all of his shortcomings are correctable with coaching. Green Bay is fortunate to have one of the best cornerbacks coaches in the business, Joe Whitt Jr., while safeties coach Darren Perry has helped nurture the growth of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett and former perennial Pro Bowler Nick Collins. 
 
In Jones, Green Bay gets an elite athlete who wants to hurt you when he hits you. The latter quality is one that needs tweaking – as Jones is prone to throwing his body around on tackles rather than wrapping up. It’s worth noting that despite having 13 missed tackles during his junior season in 2016, he still finished ranked 11th among FBS safeties in run-stop percentage. Just clean up the lunges and misses. 
 
Fact is, the list of positives is much longer than negatives when it comes to Jones. Physically and athletically, he checks all of the boxes. At a shade under 6-foot-2 and weighing in at a stout 220 pounds, Jones represents a prototype build for a safety and he makes for a very big corner. 
 
Jones is far from a finished product in coverage, but his size and athletic ability (don’t forget the 37.5” vertical) make him a potential match for athletic tight ends and running backs. In the meantime, his ability to play centerfield just might free up Burnett to continue his in-the-box ways. Jones has good hands and ball skills – and he can cover a lot of ground. 
 
For all that Micah Hyde brought to the table – instincts, versatility and playmaking ability – he was a limited athlete. That he lined up at safety and corner in Green Bay’s defense was both the result of his resourcefulness and his lack of pure cornerback speed. 
 
Eventually, Jones could be an ideal fit replacing the role once occupied by Hyde – namely that of an interchangeable chess piece. Increasingly the designation of cornerback or safety loses value. The direction the league is going requires versatile defenders, and if Jones can cultivate man coverage abilities there’s no doubt he’ll have the opportunity to move around. Athletically, he puts Hyde to shame. 
 
With questions as to how Green Bay can consistently generate a pass rush with a net departure of pass rushers from a year ago, a fast and aggressive player like Jones could also show some value right away as a blitzer. 
 
That the Packers chose Jones in round two – rather than grab one of a handful of talented pass rushers still on the board – hints at how much they value the player and how they tacitly acknowledge a disastrous lack of depth in the defensive backfield. 
 
There’s reason to believe that last year’s biggest deficiency could soon become a strength. The return of Davon House; the hopeful development (and perhaps most importantly, good health) of Damarious Randall; the selection of a talented, long and athletic blue chipper in Kevin King; pairing Jones with a safety group that already includes stalwarts Clinton-Dix and Burnett. 
 
Health at the position likely holds the key, as it always does. But the Packers got faster – finally. 
 
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Comments (16)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

May 01, 2017 at 04:37 pm

Boy, this offseason is really about the TE. Ted brings in two free agents TEs and this big fast kid who should be able to cover them.

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MarkinMadison's picture

May 01, 2017 at 05:18 pm

That was my initial reaction to him too. He will be faster than any TE, faster than all but a few running backs and faster than many wide receivers. He also has more size and strength to compete with all but a few wide receivers, most running backs, and shouldn't get tossed around by TEs. I've read that he is better the farther he gets away from LOS, but he seems more ideally suited to come in as an ILB in packages than Burnett.

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OrganLeroy's picture

May 01, 2017 at 05:32 pm

I think he'll occasionally be put inside the box like Burnett, he did that in college, I also read last week that the plan is to move Randall inside to the slot.

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CAG123's picture

May 01, 2017 at 05:55 pm

I agree with that notion with 2 big physical corners on the outside that can man up and DR in the slot the middle of the field could be a dangerous spot to throw into this year especially if both HHCD and Jones are there.

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al bundy's picture

May 01, 2017 at 07:33 pm

He will be an improvement for sure? Just reading anothe very in depth analysis of all the picks and its middling. A few are A quality and several are c minus with one guy expected to be fa material who ted went high on? Why?

One comment on many of teds picks, injury laden guys.
IMHO all the pack injury history is ted not taking injury history into consideration. Well he has another slew coming on board.

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zeke's picture

May 02, 2017 at 01:17 am

" Just reading..."

Seems unlikely.

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dubski20four's picture

May 01, 2017 at 07:45 pm

The defensive transformation replicating the versatility of our offense will give us an edge in '17.

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Bearmeat's picture

May 01, 2017 at 09:05 pm

I'm very excited about Jones, King and Biegel. This has the potential to be a MUCH better defense! I don't think it'll be top 5, but it'll be better, and wth our offense, that may just be good enough.

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RCPackerFan's picture

May 01, 2017 at 09:36 pm

I agree.
Also to add to that the signings of House and Francois will help strengthen each unit.

But I think the greatest improvements will be made from getting Randall and Rollins healthy, and the improvements made with the 2nd year players. Clark, Lowry, Fackrell and Martinez all should take steps next year.

I do think the defense will be much improved this year.

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Denver's picture

May 01, 2017 at 09:34 pm

''Jones’ development may require some patience "
I put up with MD Jennings for a couple of years so this won't be a problem.

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Tundraboy's picture

May 01, 2017 at 11:19 pm

Thats a great way to look at it. Lol

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PatrickGB's picture

May 01, 2017 at 10:24 pm

I agree with you about Jennings. However, I think that Jones has better speed and has already had experience in a variety of spots on defense. He maybe more NFL ready as a rookie than Jennings was and has some "make up speed" to help him. He may need to not just "grab, grab, grab" as Vince used to say.

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Lphill's picture

May 02, 2017 at 06:41 am

Al Bundy do you like anything about this draft or anything about the Packers at all ?

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MarkinMadison's picture

May 02, 2017 at 07:25 am

He chooses the screen name of an idiot. Just sayin. His posts remind me of someone who has been banned.

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dubski20four's picture

May 02, 2017 at 07:30 am

Bundy = Bandwagon

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vj_ostrowski's picture

May 02, 2017 at 09:08 am

Ah, the shoe salesman that eats Tang sandwiches for breakfast doesn't like the draft.

"One guy gave one of our picks a C minus" - well, knock me over with a feather, I guess he's no good then.

Nick Collins was the 27th ranked cornerback in the Sporting News draft guide I bought on the year he came out. UDFA material.

You can find an opinion that supports or denigrates any of these guys.

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