Texas A&M CB Jaylon Jones isn’t always part of the lists people throw out when talking about the strong 2023 NFL Draft cornerback class. But he deserves to be mentioned among some of the better prospects in the bunch. An early declare with the tools and the pedigree, Jones is another potential NFL starter in a loaded positional group.
Jaylon Jones NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Texas A&M
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’2″, 200 pounds
- Length: 30 3/4″
- Hand: 9″
It’s one thing when a player earns a five-star recruit tag. It’s another when they deliver on that pedigree immediately. Looking back on his Texas A&M career, Jones can say he did both.
Jones was a five-star recruit in the 2020 class, with experience at both safety and cornerback. He came to Texas A&M and logged starting reps from the beginning. As a true freshman, he started 10 games, led the defense with six pass deflections, and earned his first career interception.
For the next two campaigns, Jones would remain a fixture on the boundary for the Aggies. In 2021, he put up 35 tackles for loss, two interceptions, and four pass deflections, then added 33 more tackles and two more deflections in 2022.
2022 was a disappointing year for the Aggies as a whole. And on the surface, Jones’ dip in production wraps him in that narrative. But looking at the film, Jones still shows immense promise in spite of his team’s lack of success. And that’s what scouts will be paying close attention to in the lead-up to the 2023 NFL Draft.
Jaylon Jones Scouting Report
Jones doesn’t have the ball production that evaluators are often drawn to. However, looking at the tape, he still shows off many translatable qualities as a potential starting NFL CB.
Recruiting pedigree isn’t a one-to-one measure of a player’s natural talent by any means, but it does have some merit. The five stars are five stars for a reason, and Jones is a prime example. The natural talent is easy to see on Jones’ film. For his long, wiry 6’2″, 200-pound frame, he brings a tangibly impressive aura as an athlete.
A long-strider, Jones flashes superb explosive capacity when triggering on routes, and he shows glimpses of great linear acceleration when he has room to open his strides. He can also use curvilinear acceleration to track upfield while adjusting his pursuit angles.
When moving vertically, Jones has enough long-strider speed to turn and run with most receivers. He has the necessary long speed to patrol zones downfield and track receivers in the deep third.
Jones’ long-strider athleticism gives him utility in space, but his athletic skill set closer to the line is even more appealing. Jones flashes elite short-area mobility, agility, and throttle control when matching and maintaining leverage, both in man coverage and zone. His 6.88 three-cone time at 6’2″ is just additional proof of his rare short-area mobility.
Jones is a smooth, flexible athlete who can naturally stack movements and sink to manage space. And his high-end corrective twitch allows him to snap into phase at stems and channel acceleration. That same throttle control allows him to quickly decelerate and clamp down on comebacks.
While he doesn’t always channel elite quantities of explosion on breaks, the sudden athleticism and control Jones has for his size is truly an asset. He’s also very fluid, which proves essential in coverage. The Texas A&M CB can sink and swivel from outside to inside leverage fairly quickly, matching in-breaking routes. He can undergo 180-degree transitions quickly, snapping around to match receiver leverage and carrying burst out of those transitions.
Athletically, Jones has all the tools coaches want to build around. And despite being younger than the average prospect as a true junior, he’s not working from square one as a technician. He flashes discipline with his technique at the line, routinely using feet first and mirroring receivers with patient steps.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft CB Class
With his fast feet, quick stimulus response, and short-area athleticism, Jones can easily mirror receivers in press. And when receivers attack vertically, he can quickly turn his hips, run with them, and use his length to squeeze them against the boundary. Meanwhile, in off-man and zone, he can track receivers up the field ahead of stems with quick leverage steps.
Especially in off-man, Jones shows off excellent response when reacting to route breaks. He can also quickly process screens, then redirect downhill with little delay. Mentally, Jones has what it takes to manage the pace of plays and stick to his man.
Length is a weapon for cornerbacks, but it’s ultimately weaponized by physicality. Some cornerbacks have it. Others don’t. Jones has it. He’s a tenacious competitor who isn’t scared off from contact situations in either phase. And in coverage, he’s shown he can use his length and play strength to dictate receiver depth and take away space.
At the catch point, Jones’ physicality grants him upside. While he’s still not the most consistent playmaker, his length naturally widens his disruption radius. He’s also flashed good coordination with his length, and he’s proactive in playing the ball through the entire catch process, looking to pry it loose.
In run support, Jones’ mix of length, short-area athleticism, and physicality combine to form an arguably elite skill set. Jones exudes constant urgency in run support. He’s always engaged, and he’ll repeatedly fight to get past blocks with his agility and physicality.
Jones can use his length to scrape past blocks and successively wrap up ball carriers. As a tackler, he has good play strength, even when working from imbalanced positions. His length and closing speed allow him to wrangle up ball carriers before they turn to head up the field.
More often than not, Jones takes good angles, and he’s willing to square up and absorb runners with his frame in the open field. When engaging blocks, he proactively uses his length and leg drive to take away space before deconstructing.
Jones’ Areas for Improvement
Jones is an exceptional athlete, but a few of his functional athletic components fall short of the elite mark. While he tested with elite explosiveness — logging a 38″ vertical and a 10’2″ broad jump — he doesn’t always channel that burst on tape. Jones can’t always make up ground after being stacked. Similarly, he doesn’t have the top-end speed to consistently avoid being stacked by faster opponents. His 4.57 40-yard dash was indicative of this.
Jones’ fluidity also stops just shy of the elite mark. While he has more than enough transitioning ability to flourish, his frame is a bit high-hipped, which can cause slight hitches on his rotations. At times, he struggles to swivel around without delay, losing his balance on sharper transitions.
On occasion, Jones’ feet appear heavy, rendering him flat-footed on breaks, although he seemed to play with faster feet and greater efficiency as the 2022 season went on. Even so, he can struggle to maintain balance and stay low on his backpedal, and his footwork can be staggered at times.
On his backpedal, Jones sometimes plays too tall and widens too much at the top of his drop, which can stall his acceleration when transitioning to carry receivers up the field. He’ll also get a bit too grabby at and out of stems. With his length and physicality, he sometimes tugs at receivers to stay in phase, bringing a penalty risk.
Elsewhere, Jones can accrue more experience actively using his length in press coverage. He can also be a bit late to process misdirections at times, and his initial pursuit angles can be too narrow, forcing corrections. In zone, he can be a tick late to recognize intent and trigger on passes. And occasionally, he over-pursues angles in run support.
Current Draft Projection for Texas A&M CB Jaylon Jones
In a stacked 2023 NFL Draft CB class, Jones still grades out as a top-75 prospect on my board. He’s well worth consideration in the mid-Day 2 range and could even crack the top 64 picks for a team that’s particularly high on his talent and upside.
Jones isn’t a finished product yet, but that’s not a reason to be overly concerned for a 21-year-old rookie. There is room for Jones to become more comfortable using his length in conjunction with his footwork in press. He also stands to become more natural as a playmaker at the catch point, and occasional lapses in processing will need work.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
All this being said, however, Jones has the physical tools and athletic foundation required to command early-round capital. He has more than enough explosiveness and fluidity for his strong 6’2″ frame, and his elite short-area athleticism and agility serve as defining traits. It aids him against both the pass and the run, allowing him to play on the boundary and in the slot.
Already, Jones has showcased good patience and discipline in press-man coverage. He reacts quickly to breaks and transitions well in off-man, and he has the length and athleticism to grow into a quality zone player. Within the first three rounds, Jones is a scheme-versatile, alignment-versatile talent with impact starter potential. He’s very much worth the early investment.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Jaylon Jones
Strengths: Nice-sized corner who flashes ability. Long, quick flipping his hips in transition, and quickly locates the ball. Physical run defender and strong open-field tackler who battles receivers throughout the route. Fires upfield and smacks ball handlers.
Weaknesses: Not smooth transitioning with receivers off the line. Struggles staying on the opponent’s hip out of breaks and cannot drive to the ball out of his plant.
Overall: Jones showed a lot of ability as a sophomore in 2021, yet his play fell significantly last year. He possesses next-level size but needs a lot of work on his game.
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