The Eagles turned more than a few heads last night when they picked former Washington cornerback Sidney Jones with the 43rd overall pick in the Draft. Jones, who was previously touted to go in the first round before a suffering devastating injury at his pro-day, fell into the Eagles laps in the second round..but with the short-term future uncertain, many questioned why the Eagles snatched him away from the remaining teams with a second round pick.
“Sidney Jones, when we started this process, was one of the guys that we were talking about with the 14th pick in the draft in our first stack of players.” Roseman told the media after making the pick. “As we looked at it, great character, great player. Obviously, the injury is a factor here. That’s the reason that he was available. We spent a lot of time with our doctors — Dr. DeLuca [Eagles head team physician Dr. Peter DeLuca] and Chris Peduzzi, our head trainer — talking about this situation.
For us, it’s about what we believe this kid brings to our football team going forward. We anticipate a full recovery for him. We don’t know that timetable, and to be fair, we’re going to just make sure that he’s healthy and he’s ready to go, because we believe he can be an impact player for us for a long time going forward when he gets back out on the field.”
In his sophomore season, Jones led the pac-12 in pass breakups with 12, intercepting 4 and showing his strength as a tackler, forcing three fumbles. One year later, he would pick off another three passes as well as breaking up a further six..being named first-team All-Pac 12 in the process.Jones has a firm punch at the line of scrimmage when initiating bump-and-run coverage and has incredible spatial awareness. Those numbers certainly jump off the screen..and it’s something that wasn’t lost on Roseman or the rest of the Eagles front office.
“You grade him for what he is as a player”. Roseman explained when discussing the pick. “I think that’s the most important thing. And then we defer to our medical staff about what they think his recovery time period is, and then we go through hypotheticals. We say, ‘Hey, if something happened to one of our players in training camp and we lost him for the year, but we knew we had him going forward and he was an asset, would we still be excited about that guy?’”
“When we look at this [situation] with the 43rd pick and a guy that we certainly had among our top 14 players in the draft, and getting two of our top 14 players [including first-round pick Derek Barnett] in the whole draft, for us, we just thought it was a really good opportunity. We’re really optimistic about it because [Jones] is 20-years-old and in doing all the research that our doctors and trainers did about this injury, we just thought it was a great opportunity for our football team.”
“I did get a chance to see him live. [Washington] played Arizona State. The entire secondary played well. The thing that jumps out most about Sidney is his length and his feet. He is a very smooth mover and can easily flip his hips. He can carry guys down the field. He’s very instinctive and very route aware. He has a really good gauge on what the receiver is going to do at the top of his routes, and I think he has ideal ball skills.”
With the wheels seemingly in motion, the Eagles had been keeping a close eye on Jones ever since. But when the heartbreaking injury shattered Jones’ hopes of hearing his name called inside the top ten, it was the Birds’ who showed a touch of class.
“I got a [handwritten] letter from an Eagles staff member.” Jones said via a conference call. “I thought that was awesome. From there, I knew they still had interest [in me]. I had a feeling that it was going to be Philly if I was still there.”
After sustaining the injury, it was all about trusting the process for Jones and ensuring nothing throws him off track.
“No, I don’t think there was a moment of doubt at all. I’m being honest when I say that. I’ve seen players come back from injuries and I just look at it [as] something I’m going to have to get through. Athletes get through injuries; that’s what we do. Football is a physical sport and you’re bound to get injured at some point, and this was one of them. I’ve never had surgery [before], so this is my first big injury.”
When you think about the NFL Draft, you naturally think impact players in the first two rounds..guys who can come and help your team right away. With there being no guarantee that Jones is healthy for the heart of the 2017 season, this pick goes against the grain in a position of need in that sense..but as we’ve already learned, Rome wasn’t built in a day..and building is the key word in all of this.
“The draft is about the long-term interest of your football team.” Roseman stated. “If you go into it and say, ‘Hey, we have this open spot on our depth chart and we’ve got to fill it right now,’ we’re going to miss opportunities to get the best player. When we look at it, for us, whatever the timetable is with Sidney, when he gets back and he’s 100 percent, he makes a difference. He’s a difference maker at the corner position. For us, that’s something we’ve been looking for. It’s hard to get that guy, period, let alone with the 43rd pick in the draft.”
The long-term future was always in mind with this pick. Jones has the potential to be a fixture in Philadelphia for the next decade and in essence, the Eagles were able to draft a player who was graded inside their top 14 talents, with the 11th pick in the second round. The team are among the healthiest in the NFL and with a strong sports science culture, could be the perfect fit for Jones in that regard.
We may not get to see Sidney Jones compete in 2017..but when the cogs begin to mesh and the Eagles enter year three of their Super Bowl window, they will enter the season with a premier edge rusher and a corner who has shutdown potential written all over him. I think that’s worth the wait, don’t you?
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports