Name: Josh Jones
School: North Carolina State
Position fit: Strong safety
Stats to know: 35 total stops, 23 run stops; ranked 11th among FBS safeties in run-stop percentage despite his high number of misses.
What he does best:
- Big combine put him on the radar – 6-foot-1, 220 lbs., 4.41 40, 37.5 inch vertical and 11-foot-0 vertical jump put him in elite company.
- When in position, uses his length well to reach around and break up passes.
- 25/46, 0 TDs, 3 INTs and 6 PDs played some CB early.
- When he stays low and over his feet, and disciplined to his target, he displays the athletic and physical tools needed to make plays on the ball in the air.
- Has the size and strength to compete with tight ends in man coverage.
- Arm tackler who will leave his feet and miss too often; 13 missed tackles in 2016, ranking him 61st among FBS safeties in tackling efficiency
- Can get himself into trouble by peeking into the backfield and losing assignments; frequently bites up on play-action
- Poor technique in coverage; gets turned around too easily, seems to panic at times off his man’s break
- Combine number suggest top athlete with the burst to break and close effectively, but he tends to show a bit of a hitch in transition because he gets too upright in his pedal
- A coverage bust waiting to happen; far too many mental lapses
Player comparison: Matt Elam, Baltimore Ravens
Elam is a solid athlete who struggles in coverage due to mental errors and hip stiffness. While he likes to play the run attacking forward, he is too often out of control, which leads to him missing tackles.
Bottom line: Jones is a frustrating player to evaluate because he’ll show flashes of the athleticism he put on display, only to make a number of mental errors that result in big plays for the offense. When focused in man coverage, his speed and physicality allows him to run with most receivers in space, and he does an excellent job of locating balls and outplaying his man in the air for the break-up. However, in zone situations he appears to freelance at times, a problem that generally appears to worsen the closer he is to the line of scrimmage. He’ll need to shore up his mental errors and become a more consistent tackler in order to see the field on defense, so at this stage he’s primary role is likely to be special teams.