Patriots Defender Gives Scouting Reports On JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike Gesicki

'They're going to be able to help us a lot'


March 22

Jonathan Jones is fully aware of how JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki can challenge opposing defenses.

The versatile cornerback faced both pass-catchers multiple times over the last seven seasons, defending Gesicki while he was with the Miami Dolphins and Smith-Schuster during his days with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Jones doesn’t have to worry about that anymore, as the Patriots last week signed both players to free agent contracts.

Gesicki, a receiving-first tight end, should be an immediate upgrade over Jonnu Smith, who disappointed in New England before last week’s trade to the Atlanta Falcons. And Smith-Schuster has the talent and athleticism to provide even more production than what the Patriots got from Jakobi Meyers, who now is with the Las Vegas Raiders.

While speaking with on Wednesday, Jones offered scouting reports on both of his new teammates.

“Especially Mike — I’ll start with Mike,” Jones said. “He’s an underrated tight end. He’s not the most physical guy, you don’t think he’s a trailblazer. But he catches and he makes people miss. He just does it all, you know, from a tight end perspective.

“And then with JuJu, he’s been a productive player in this league. He has that body type and just that will to play. So, I think both those guys coming in, they’re going to be able to help us a lot this year.”

Gesicki and Smith-Schuster are capable of lining up in multiple spots in the offense, but both are at their best in the slot, which is perhaps the most difficult position to defend in the NFL. A slot cornerback for most of his career before this season, Jones believes Gesicki and Smith-Schuster have the kind of high football IQs needed to succeed in the middle of the field.

“Being able to make those decisions on the fly and kind of adjust it,” Jones said. “And being on the same page as your quarterback, because a lot of those routes are option routes, with the two-way go’s and stuff.

“So, just having a guy who’s smart, that can read the defense in the same way as the quarterback does, in that position is very key.”

Whether Gesicki and Smith-Schuster ultimately will thrive in New England remains to be seen. So, too, does whether the Patriots will look to acquire additional pass-cathing threats this offseason, like receivers Jerry Jeudy or DeAndre Hopkins. Regardless, you’d have a hard time arguing that New England’s offense isn’t better today than it was two months ago.

As for Jones, he recently re-signed with the Patriots on a two-year deal. And with New England reportedly releasing-then-re-signing Jalen Mills, the Patriots are set to bring back their entire secondary from 2022, aside from retired safety Devin McCourty.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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