In 20 years of coaching in the NFL, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli can’t remember being more impressed by a rookie defensive back than he’s been impressed by Byron Jones, the team’s top pick in the 2015 draft.
“I can’t remember one [better] as a rookie,” Marinelli said, per ESPN Dallas.
Through seven games, Jones has 26 tackles and four pass break-ups on the year, while playing all over the field--corner, both out wide and in the nickel, and in both safety spots.
More than anything, it’s the versatility that has blown Marinelli away.
“Range, he’s got great range,” Marinelli said. “For a rookie to play corner, he’s played nickel, he has played strong safety in the box and now he’s playing free safety. It’s unbelievable. I’ve never been around that.”
The Cowboys, of course, knew about Jones’s versatility, and they weren’t shy about challenging the rookie off the bat. He’s pretty much been moving around since he arrived, and he’s handled it well at every step.
“I mean he’s really in-tuned his technique,” Marinelli said. “And the thing about it that’s tough, he’s played technique at corner, he’s played technique at nickel, he’s played technique over a tight end. Now it’s the technique as a free safety, which they’re all different. And he’s done ... just a very conscientious guy.”