If this past week’s rookie camp is any indication, then the second-round pick the Green Bay Packers spent on safety Josh Jones now makes immediate sense.
Looking at it on paper, the Packers didn’t need a safety. They have entrenched starters in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett. They also have what appear to be promising second-year players in Kentrell Brice and Marwin Evans.
So why use a second-round pick on a safety?
The popular theory is the Packers drafted Jones to replace Burnett when his contract expires after this season. They are almost identical in size, but Jones appears to be much more athletic and could possibly be better in coverage.
What about this year, though?
It appears the Packers have a plan to get Jones on the field immediately. That plan involves him playing linebacker, as he did extensively during the rookie camp.
Jones worked as an inside linebacker in the nickel package and also did individual work with that group. It’s a sign that Dom Capers’ defense may actually be evolving a little bit. It’s also a sign that the Packers are fed up with trying to find an actual inside linebacker who can cover anyone.
The season is still a long way away, but if the Packers utilize Jones in this sort of hybrid role, that’s going to mean fewer snaps for Blake Martinez, Joe Thomas and Jake Ryan. Thomas is the best cover man of that group, but would be a welcome subtraction, since he’s a liability in every other area.
It’s also worth noting that because Jones is a rookie, nothing is guaranteed. Packers coach Mike McCarthy has been slow to start even the most promising rookies throughout his tenure.
If anything, we’d expect the Packers to start out the season experimenting with Jones in spot duty. If he proves impactful, his role will increase as the season goes on.