The New England Patriots are using the OTA period as a time to gauge how close their 2022 draft picks are to contributing in their rookie seasons. With top picks like Cole Strange and Day 3 selections like Bailey Zappe and Jack Jones getting put through the ringer by Bill Belichick.
Jones might be one of the most interesting prospects on this team due to his path to playing time. Even though the Patriots used an earlier pick on another smaller inside cornerback in Marcus Jones, the former Arizona State Sun Devil has the feistiness at the line of scrimmage to be a star.
The Patriots lost some big names in the secondary, putting even more pressure on Jones to be a contributor during his first season as a pro. The defensive back was regarded as a Round 2 talent who fell due to some concerns about his early college career and age, but he’s proving the doubters wrong by getting tons of early reps.
Evan Lazar is reporting that in addition to Strange, Jones was one of the most involved rookies in the first few days of OTAs. While Belichick is rotating all of his defensive backs in order to size up who deserves playing time early on in the season, the fact that Jones is being thought of so highly is a good sign.
The New England Patriots might be high on Jack Jones
Jones got his college career started at USC before transferring away for academic reasons and then recorded six interceptions in three years in Tempe. While he’s smaller at 175 pounds, he has made his name with a very unique blend of man-coverage stickiness.
Additionally, he has proven to be a quality ballhawk with the Sun Devils with some outside experience, but his home in the NFL will be in the slot due to his pesky style of play. While he lacks the third-round Jones’ returning ability, he will be able to compete with Myles Bryant for snaps.
Jones is an older rookie who played six years of college ball and will turn 25 in December. Even though he’s a fourth-round pick, the pressure is on for him to find a role on this defense even though there are encouraging signs of him being tested early.
The two Jones picks will likely be cannibalizing each other’s snaps, but that competition could help sharpen both of them and make the secondary much deeper. Replacing JC Jackson is going to be an all-hands-on-deck type of affair, and Jones will need to show that he can be part of the solution.