Bucking the Trend: Will Cowboys’ CB Byron Jones Succeed?


The Cowboys don’t have a history of success drafting CBs, can 1st round pick Byron Jones “buck the trend” and find a way to succeed?

To say the Dallas Cowboys have struggled at cornerback in recent years is a bit of an understatement. Whether it’s drafting players or signing free agents (Brandon Carr), the Dallas Cowboys don’t appear to be very good evaluators of CB talent.

Before the draft, I reviewed the Cowboys’ history of failure at the CB spot. I stated that since 2008, the Dallas Cowboys have drafted 9 CBs, and with the exception of one player (Orlando Scandrick in 2008), every single one has been a bust.

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Despite the embarrassing 89% failure rate the Cowboys took the CB plunge once again, drafting Byron Jones in the first round. Will Byron be the player we all hope he’ll be, or is he destined to a career of disappointment, much like his predecessors?

With the recent failure of Morris Claiborne, it’s hard to sell the optimism of a great scouting report, but Bryon Jones offers more than a strong scouting report. Byron Jones offers versatility, leadership, work ethic, and intelligence to package with his very impressive tangible set of skills. That’s what sets him apart from everyone else.

Byron Jones’ academic achievements, college football study habits, and leadership skills all speak to his character. This isn’t to say the CB failures of years’ past lacked these skills, it’s just these stand out with Jones.

The NFL is about ups and downs. Athletic ability gives you the “ups”, but hard work, leadership, and character allow you deal with the inevitable “downs”. Difficult downs, are especially prevalent at the cornerback position. The expression “CB’s need to have a short memory” speaks to confidence-shattering plays, that happen on a regular basis. Plays that Morris Claiborne has a tough time getting past.

Don’t get me wrong, Morris Claiborne still has one more year to prove himself. As I discussed Monday, the book on Morris has yet to be written. But Morris is playing from behind and the clock is ticking. This season’s top pick, Byron Jones, can’t afford to stumble out of the gate (and halfway down the track) like Claiborne.

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Besides the work ethic, character, and leadership traits Byron Jones has other things working for him. The CB position may not be loaded on the Cowboys but it’s fairly stable at the top. Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr are both entrenched as starters so there’s really no pressure on Jones to start this season. When was the last time a Cowboys 1st round pick could claim that?

Coming in on nickel packages (likely as the RCB), Jones figures to get a ton of work but not get overly exposed. Behind him is the previously discussed Morris Claiborne, who many Cowboys fans would like to see get playing time as well.

Finally working in Byron Jones’ favor is his ability to play FS. The Cowboys would love to have a bona fide FS to play centerfield in their Single High Safety formation. Currently they employ two SS and try to mask their coverage deficiencies as much as possible.

Optimally, the Cowboys want Byron Jones as a strong and developing CB capable of taking a starter role in 2016, but the ability to play FS adds to his value, as well offers a Plan B – A plan B that could easily be a positional upgrade.

Will Byron Jones be a busted draft pick like so many that came before him? His unique set of skills and traits say no. He may not have the ceiling that Morris Claiborne once boasted, but the guy appears to have a floor higher than most fellow first rounders.

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