February 28, 2017

NFL Draft: UConn CB Byron Jones has a chance to make history

He was a late-round prospect as recently as three months ago. This weekend Byron Jones will be in Chicago, where he has a chance to become the highest NFL Draft pick in UConn Football history.

Byron Jones came into UConn as an unheralded 2-star recruit with light interest from the FBS. Back in 2009, the in-state product from St. Paul Catholic in Bristol committed to the Huskies as a wide receiver. Today he holds an invitation to the green room of the NFL Draft, where he stands a solid chance of being taken in the first round as a cornerback.

After a productive college career in the defensive backfield, the consensus was that Jones was a late-round pick. But after greatly exceeding expectations at the combine, pro day and in workouts, his stock has taken one of those meteoric rises you hear about.

He first opened eyes at the combine in Indianapolis. It has been well-documented how Jones broke the world record in the broad jump there, beating the previous combine record by 8 inches. He followed that up with 18 reps on the bench press and an incredible 44.5-inch high jump. Afterwards, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock had him listed as a top-5 corner.

Former UConn player and current Kansas City Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey called it “one of the most impressive, explosive workouts I’ve witnessed at the Combine in recent years,” in an interview with The Hartford Courant.

About a month later, in front of dozens of NFL personnel at UConn’s Pro Day, Jones ran a 4.36 second 40-yard dash. He cemented himself as one of the best athletes at any position available in the draft.

The pSPARQ rating which I mentioned in the Geremy Davis preview has Byron Jones rated as the most athletic cornerback relative to his peers. College sports site Lost Letterman pegged Jones as the top “Freak Athlete” in this year’s draft class. Jones was also the focus of an interview in the Rolling Stone today.

But he’s not just an athletic specimen. Byron Jones is regarded as a smart, instinctual player who held opposing quarterbacks to a 26.3 passer rating according to Pro Football Focus. That performance would have been the best in college football had Jones fulfilled the minimum threshold for games played. He has also excelled in the classroom.

Though the draft evaluation process, Jones has quelled any concerns about his athleticism and is being looked at as a traditional outside press corner. So far, he has worked out for the DolphinsEagles49ers, as well as the Bills, Bears, Cowboys and Cardinalsper Rotoworld. With how much interest the Eagles have shown, and their need at cornerback, there is a good chance they take Jones at 20th overall.

If that were to happen, Byron Jones would become the earliest draft pick in UConn Football history, besting Husky great Donald Brown, who was picked 27th overall in 2009 by the Colts.

UConn Football boasts a long line of successful defensive backs in the NFL, and Byron Jones will be joining those ranks this weekend. Hopefully he can continue to push the envelope and advance the profile of Huskies in the NFL.

Mock Draft Watch

  • SB Nation – 1st Round, 30th overall, Green Bay Packers (link)
  • NFL.com – 2nd Round, 47th overall, Miami Dolphins (link)
  • Walter Football – 1st Round, 23rd overall, Detroit Lions (link)
  • Daniel Jeremiah – 1st Round, 22nd overall, Pittsburgh Steelers (link)
  • Charley Casserly – 1st Round, 30th overall, Green Bay Packers (link)
  • ESPN NFL Nation – 1st Round, 22nd overall, Pittsburgh Steelers (link)
  • CBS Sports – 1st Round, 27th overall, Dallas Cowboys (link)

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