The Eagles have officially drafted Washington cornerback Sidney Jones with the 43rd overall pick in this years draft. With Joe Mixon and Alvin Kamara still on the board, many wondered if the Eagles would be tempted to take a chance on the offensive side of the ball. However, they decided to lay the foundations of a starting cornerback tandem that could rein for years to come..but it wasn’t without risk.
Who is Sidney Jones?
By now, you all know the name, Sidney Jones. If it wasn’t for a heartbreaking leg injury during his pro day, the Washington corner would be a first round pick, period. But the reality is that a torn Achilles is more than just a bump in the road..and there’s no guarantee that his ceiling will be as high as it was coming off of a stunning final season.
Using the sideline to is advantage and having a second sense for incoming passes, Jones sticks to players like glue in press and can mirror and match with the very best in this year’s class.
At 6’0, 186 lbs, Jones isn’t intimidated by opposing wideouts and has the vertical reach to challenge every pass. Combine this with some impressive play recognition and what you have is a well rounded corner with shutdown potential. As much as the injury does hold him back, Jones can be a little over instinctive at times..leading to him anticipating how plays are going to pan out and acting on that instinct as oppose to what the receiver is doing. This can at times lead to scrappy play and a lot of overzealous arm reaching, giving receivers an edge. When you combine these mild inconsistencies with the fact that his career does realistically have a different outlook, the pick certainly carries a certain balance of risk and reward.
Best player available:
There’s no doubt that Sidney Jones is a first round talent. Prior to his devastating injury, Jones ranked among the top corners in the draft..and for the reasons above, it’s easy to see why. The Eagles have seemingly adopted a “best player available” mentality..and that was backed up with this pick.
Addressing the Elephant in the room:
It took a little longer than expected, but the Eagles were able to bring in a corner who could be a fixture in Philadelphia for years to come. The Derek Barnett pick suddenly looks incredibly smart and even more exciting than it did hours after it was announced. If the Birds’ had drafted elsewhere with number 43, there was a 56 pick gap without an Eagles pick..meaning that the CB run that had already started, could have drained the pool by the time they pick again in the bottom of the third round.
While Jones is said to currently be wearing a walking boot and on pace to play in September, the 20-year old cornerback may not play in 2017..and it’s a possibility that the Eagles have to be prepared for. However, September/October seems to be the window of return for Jones..which sets him up to come back right in the heart of the 2017 season, missing Training camp in the process. it would arguably be safer to allow Jones to recover fully and sit the season out, giving him a year to acquaint himself with the city, the team and the scheme.
Things aren’t always as simple as being able to return to the field one day after being cleared by the Doctors..but the Eagles are one of the healthiest teams in the league and their sports science structure is second to none. If the Eagles have the flexibility to allow Jones to fully rehab, their 2018 cornerback corps could be incredibly scary.
What about now?
So, the Eagles cornerback puzzle still isn’t completely solved. As it stands, if Jones were to miss part of the 2017 season in a best case scenario, the Eagles CB corps consists of Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks, Patrick Robinson, Aaron Grymes, Mitchell White and C.J Smith. They simply need starting talent who can impact the team NOW..and that’s the ONLY drawback to drafting Sidney Jones in the second round.
It likely means that the team will double-dip at CB just as they did in the historic 2002 Draft..but one thing is for sue, Training camp is going to be a LOT of fun.
Trust the process:
The Eagles aren’t being built to win now. If you’re trying to build a sustainable defense and are sat in the second round with the chance to grab a cornerback who prior to an injury, was projected to go in the heart of the first round..you take it. Eagles fans may not see Sidney Jones cause problems for the NFC East this year..but when the team are in the final stages of preparing for that inevitable deep playoff charge..the rewards will reap themselves. Trust the process. The Eagles have arguably one of the best corners in the draft at an exceptionally cheap cost, providing the injury fully heals.