Byron Jones moving to cornerback from his usual position of free safety has been a win for Dallas this season. From the University of Connecticut, Jones was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft. So far this season Jones has been one of the highest graded cornerbacks throughout the 2018 NFL season. With the success Byron Jones is having his first year at the position, what is setting him apart from other big name cornerbacks?
Jones has nine pass deflections throughout the first nine games of the season, and a season-high of three deflections against Jacksonville in the Cowboys forty to seven victory. However, Jones does not lead the league in pass deflections; ironically, Morris Claiborne leads the league in this category with thirteen. But Jones is not targeted consistently because he does not allow much separation when in coverage allowing just .79 yards of separation when targeted and an average 64.9 QBR. Also, Byron Jones has not allowed a single TD when in coverage this season, but Jones has not had a single interception either. Don’t expect a season with no interceptions from Jones. The lengthy big body cornerback resembles the build of Richard Sherman–one of the league’s best corners, and also a former player for newly acquired defensive back coach Kris Richard.
Another reason Byron Jones has thrived at cornerback his first year since returning to his respectful position since college is the defensive schemes Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard bring to the table. The Cowboys run a cover three defense over fifty percent of the time, and a press cover three defense based on the same concept. Marianelli typically ran the cover two defense nearly perfect; however, with the addition of Kris Richard, both have worked together and progressed into a cover three defense to combat the heavy pass attack you see in the NFL today. This new defensive scheme has only helped Byron Jones develops into one of the best cornerbacks today. With the cover three defense, Byron plays one-third of the field–pressing his man at the line of scrimmage forcing his opponents to be 0 of 6 on go routes again him. The only achievement Byron Jones is missing this season is an interception. The last interception Jones had was last year of week eight against the Redskins, but be prepared to see Jones make more plays this week against Atlanta.
Byron Jones has been the Cowboys number one lockdown corner this season, but this may be the biggest task Byron has faced all season— battling Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons offense. Altogether Jones has been a top graded cornerback because of his athleticism and his big build allowing him to readjust and play the ball like an All-Pro cornerback.