IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) – “This is not a workout warrior,” coach Jason Garrett said of the Cowboys’ pick in the first round of Thursday’s NFL Draft. “This is a football player.’’
The reference is to the 6-1, 199-pound UConn product’s freakish athleticism. Byron Jones, who played safety his first two years in college before moving to cornerback his final two years (position flex that might eventually be put into play in Dallas, though he’ll begin his career as a corner), set an unofficial “world record’ in the broad jump at the NFL Combine with a leap of 12 foot, 3 inches.
That shattered the previous combine record of 11-7; no NFL player had ever exceeded 12 feet. Jones also has a vertical leap of 44.5 inches and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds.
This sort of thing can become a “backhanded compliment’’ of sorts for a player, though, analysts getting so caught up in the “Underwear Olympics’’ that it overshadows his talents as a player.
“Obviously they saw more than a broad jump,” Jones said of the Cowboys’ long-standing interest in him. “A broad jump doesn’t do anything for you in football. I hope they saw an intelligent, athletic player. I guess they’re happy with what they saw. But I haven’t done anything yet.’’
The background is all there, though — “Garrett Guy’’ stuff, as Jones is a team captain, is the son of a retired state trooper, spend an offseason in Washington D.C. working alongside a congressman and posted the highest Wonderlic score of any DB in this class. All of that factored in to Dallas’ decision to sit tight at 27 – and to truly get lucky to have a guy ranked by them as a top-20 player fall into their laps.
“We probably knew as much about this player as anybody in the draft,” owner Jerry Jones said.
The Cowboys have questions to answer at cornerback, where Mo Claiborne is hurt, Orlando Scandrick is missing voluntary workouts and Brandon Carr is facing a pay cut. Jones is needed as an answer.
“When my agent answered the phone I was like, ‘Is that Dallas? Is that Dallas?’ He gave me the phone and I was ecstatic,” Jones said. “But you could tell they were really eyeing me and hoping I would fall to that pick. I’m happy I did.”
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