What Jones brings
Like Kevin King, Jones is an almost 6’2″ defensive back with blazing speed. His official time at the Combine was 4.41 but the Packers timed him in the high 4.3’s. That is fast by anybody’s standards but Jones weighs 220 pounds…that is off the charts. Jones’ versatility will allow him to be cross-trained at cornerback and also used as a linebacker if necessary. The Packers picked up a bigger, faster Micah Hyde type (he still has to prove himself of course) but a guy who can do more for the defense in several ways.
- Cover more ground than Micah Hyde
- Disguise coverage with his ability to get back to spots from feigned positions
- Hit hard…really hard
- His range is greater not only on the ground but also in the air with a 37 and a half inch vert on an almost 6’2″ frame
- Become an insurance policy if Morgan Burnett hits free agency and things get too rich for Thompson’s blood.
- Offer the possibility of having three safeties on the field in a defense that utilizes d-backs in multiple ways for favorable matchups
This is one of my favorite pickups of this year’s draft. Safety play is often overlooked in the NFL and it makes a big difference. A safety who can truly lower the boom is great for run defense, and a guy who is rangy like Jones truly helps the passing game.
What we should expect
Jones’s aggressiveness is a double-edged sword from time to time and the Packers will need to work with him to make sure he doesn’t miss tackles or get out of position. The situation at safety allows time for Jones to develop and the team to feel out what he can do in the first year. I expect to see him on the field quite a bit if he works hard on technique and learns the defensive concepts rather than relying on his speed and size alone.
The Packers will find ways to get a guy like Jones on the field. Back in ’96, the Packers would put Eugene Robinson, Mike Prior, and LeRoy Butler on the field at the same time. This “Big Nickel” package is becoming a trend in the NFL. The defense brings on a third safety to replace a linebacker. That safety can play the run and cover big tight ends out of the backfield. This role is what guys like Josh Jones are made for. Now, Jones may not be that right away but the Packers drafted him with that in mind for sure. A six foot two safety who can hit and also can outrun any tight end in the league with a three foot plus vert is just the ticket against the bigger faster pass catching tight ends that are the offensive trend in the league right now.
When the Packers hit the pre-season, I will be watching Jones closely. Not only is he a replacement for Micah Hyde, he is an upgrade. The big nickel package could be a key to getting past teams like the Atlanta Falcons with a high powered passing attack but also could help with teams like the Cowboys, who like to let Zeke Elliott run the ball on what for other teams are must-pass downs.
I expect Jones to see playing time right away. The question will be whether he keeps reading his keys and playing his assignments and doesn’t try to do too much. If he does that, he will have his chances for big plays. With (likely) Kevin King on the field, possibly taking the number one receiver, Jones may prove to be a better option than the other cornerbacks that we have on the roster right now. That, of course, would have to come with time and I expect Randall, Rollins, and Gunter to have bounce-back years but eventually, Josh Jones has the potential to be a serious play-maker for the Packers.