FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots addressed a need with their first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by selecting Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones with the 60th pick (second round) on Friday night.
Jones is looking forward to meeting his new teammates in the Patriots secondary, a group he sees some of himself in.
“They’re just a hungry group. That’s what I see when I watch them,” Jones said during a media conference call. “They’re smart, they play with a chip on their shoulder every Sunday. That’s exactly how I play. I can’t wait to meet those guys and try to earn their respect.”
Jones mostly played on the outside of the field in the Crimson Tide secondary, a position he transitioned to from wide receiver.
“Coach (Nick) Saban, we were losing a few (defensive backs) after my freshman year. Coach knew I could play DB, and he asked me if I’d be willing to try it out in the spring time,” Jones said. “I bought in — I just wanted to help the team in any way possible, and it worked out for me and the team.”
Jones also is capable of playing as a nickel cornerback, too, giving the Patriots valuable versatility.
“I played nickel a bit in practice, but Coach Saban always wanted me on the outside, so that’s where I predominantly was during the season,” Jones said. “In games, I was always pretty much trailing the top receiver for the other team, and they usually line up on the outside of the field most of the time. I can definitely play nickel. It’s no problem if I have to slide inside.
“I don’t think there’s anywhere I can’t line up and be successful on the football field. I played outside most of my career at Alabama, and I had success. I don’t think there’s any reason why I can’t line up on Sunday and do the same thing. I feel like I can play on the outside.”
One aspect Patriots coach Bill Belichick must have liked about Jones is his dedication to improving with his work off the field in the film room.
“I love watching film. I used to get teased at ‘Bama by my coaches saying I should have an office because I was in the film room so much and up there almost as much as they were,” Jones said. “I love watching film, and I think the key to becoming a better player — a lot of players in this league have physical gifts and talent, but I think what you work on off the field is what separates you.”
We might not see Jones on the field as a cornerback for the Patriots in Week 1, but he could play a role on special teams given his ability to see the field well, in addition to his excellent speed.
“I returned punts in high school. I was pretty good at that — I just had a knack for finding creases and being able to see where to cut in, and I had good vision always,” Jones said. “That ability just increased in college, and as I got more comfortable, I started to have more success. I had my best year my senior year, and that’s going to be a big thing for me to get on the field early next season.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Cyrus Jones (5) against the Clemson Tigers in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports