Jack Jones’ rookie season with the Patriots started with immense promise before finishing on a sour note.
The 2022 fourth-round pick looked like an emerging top cornerback through the first three months of the campaign. But Jones missed the final four games due to an injury and finished the season on the suspension list and reportedly had a heated altercation with New England head coach Bill Belichick.
If he can get his head on straight, Jones could be a key piece in the Patriots defense for years to come. If he doesn’t, he’ll flame out in Foxboro and justify concerns some evaluators had over his off-field behavior.
So, it would behoove Jones to turn toward some of New England’s veterans for guidance. Cornerback Jonathan Jones, the longest-tenured member of the Patriots secondary, is ready to take the 25-year-old under his wing.
“Just to be there for him,” Jones told reporters Tuesday when asked about his teammate. “Anything that he needs, whether it be on the field or off the field, just to show him what it is to be a New England Patriot cornerback, player, just a professional in this league. And just watch him continue to grow. Heading into Year 2, you’re just going to see growth.”
Jack Jones should have every opportunity to earn a starting role this summer. Ideally, New England will start Jones and Christian Gonzalez as its top boundary corners while moving Jonathan Jones back to the slot, his primary position. Do-everything weapon Marcus Jones and versatile defensive back Myles Bryant should play a role, as well.
But the Patriots also now have great depth at cornerback. If Jones doesn’t put his best foot forward this season, his playing time will suffer.
We soon will get our first look at New England’s retooled secondary. The Patriots are scheduled to start voluntary offseason practices next Monday, with mandatory minicamp beginning in mid-June.