Byron Jones is considered by many to be one of, if not the top candidate on the Dallas roster to enjoy a breakout 2016 season. Just ask SportsDay’s Jon Machota (and Cowboys fans).
After playing nearly every defensive back position as a rookie, Jones finally gets to focus on one position as a second-year player: safety.
Still, Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated‘s MMQB.com has seen enough from Jones to deem him the NFL’s most versatile defender. Benoit, an analyst and writer for MMQB.com, shared his scouting report of the Cowboys this week, in which he wrote the following about Jones:
“Second-year pro Byron Jones is already the most versatile defender in the NFL. It’s one thing to play a bunch of positions–free safety, box safety, slot corner, outside corner–but it’s another to play them all well. Last season Jones won man coverage battles against Rob Gronkowski, Doug Baldwin and, occasionally, No. 2 or No. 3 receivers on the perimeter. Have we ever seen another rookie handle such a wide spectrum of coverage responsibilities?”
Benoit also touched on other areas of the team’s current makeup, including why the offense becomes more predictable with Dak Prescott at quarterback instead of Tony Romo, the offensive line and assistant coach Ben Bloom, who he considers highly important at this time. Here’s Benoit, on Bloom:
“One of the most important people in the Cowboys organization right now is Ben Bloom, the defensive ends coach. Bloom has two gifted but unrefined specimens in Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, who are both suspended for Weeks 1-4. Lawrence came on strong in the second half of last season and could be primed for a breakout, but there’s still a lot of his craft left to hone. Gregory has all of his craft to hone. At this point, he’s just a man with exceptional quickness off the ball. Someone must teach him how to use it.”
And not to mention all the ends who were limited by injuries. Benson Mayowa (knee) didn’t make his training camp debut until Day 17. Rookie Charles Tapper was sidelined by a back injury for weeks.
David Irving, the massive D-lineman who special contributor Bob Sturm expects a breakout season from, also missed some time during the preseason with a groin injury. And a quick refresher on Gregory: He failed to report to camp — sources say he’s checked himself into a treatment facility — and faces a suspension that could extend to 10 games.
Needless to say, the Cowboys’ pass rush remains a work in progress — and something worth keeping your eyes glued to early in the season.
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