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Josh Jones’ Pick Now Makes Plenty Of Sense

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.

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Joseph Bonham

Joseph is a fiction writer when he isn't doing this. In his spare time he likes to do manly things like drink beer and procreate.

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6 Comments

  1. Deepsky May 8, 2017

    I don’t know, this doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. They played Burnett in the hybrid role last year and he did fairly well. Burnett isn’t very fast but he’s strong tackler, a decent run stopper.

    Jones is fast. Not quite Nick Collins fast, but certainly faster than Dix and Burnett. Don’t you want him playing safety over the top rather than Burnett?

  2. Howard May 8, 2017

    Right now the only thing all of us experts can go by is college game film. The college game film to me does not indicate Jones can take on ILB responsibility on a regular basis. He will not hold up to guards blocking him. Maybe in a year? The game film also does not show how Jones would perform as a free safety. Jones does not line up as a free safety often but when he does the film does not usually show his ability because you cannot see Jones on the film available. That could mean Jones has done his job or the coaches film could show breakdowns that the QB did not see. Either way it appears his college coaches wanted Jones closer to the line than further away. There is probably a reason for that decision by Jones college coaches.

    I can see the Packers wanting to see in a rookie camp how Jones functions at linebacker. I think for now Jones is better suited in the Hyde role. I also think Jones would be better as the dime linebacker than Thomas. I did not see Thomas as the best cover linebacker by the end of the season. I saw Ryan as a better coverage linebacker toward the season end and in the playoffs. Maybe Thomas was hurt or beat down, but Ryan was better in coverage than Thomas as the season progressed. With that said I think Jones as the season progresses should take over for Thomas as the dime linebacker. To me Thomas is a first down magnet when used as a dime linebacker. Jones appeared in college to have a ability to understand the location of the first down marker when in coverage and close to the line. We will see how that translates to the NFL.

    If the team needs a free safety I suggest Randall. Randall may have problems in coverage with his back turned, but he appears to be the best DB in tracking the ball in the air and covering field with his face to the QB.

  3. Howard May 8, 2017

    Right now the only thing all of us experts can go by is college game film. The college game film to me does not indicate Jones can take on ILB responsibility on a regular basis. He will not hold up to guards blocking him. Maybe in a year? The game film also does not show how Jones would perform as a free safety. Jones does not line up as a free safety often but when he does the film does not usually show his ability because you cannot see Jones on the film available. That could mean Jones has done his job or the coaches film could show breakdowns that the QB did not see. Either way it appears his college coaches wanted Jones closer to the line than further away. There is probably a reason for that decision was made by Jones college coaches.

    I can see the Packers wanting to see in a rookie camp how Jones functions at linebacker. I think for now Jones is better suited in the Hyde role. I also think Jones would be better as the dime linebacker than Thomas. I did not see Thomas as the best cover linebacker by the end of the season. I saw Ryan as a better coverage linebacker toward the season end and in the playoffs. Maybe Thomas was hurt or beat down, but Ryan was better in coverage than Thomas as the season progressed. With that said I think Jones as the season progresses should take over for Thomas as the dime linebacker. To me Thomas is a first down magnet when used as a dime linebacker. Jones appeared in college to have a ability to understand the location of the first down marker when in coverage and close to the line. We will see how that translates to the NFL.

    If the team needs a free safety I suggest Randall. Randall may have problems in coverage with his back turned, but he appears to be the best DB in tracking the ball in the air and covering field with his face to the QB.

    1. Kato May 8, 2017

      Completely agree with Randall being a FS. He is not a CB. Right now, I see 3-4 strong safties on this roster (Clinton Dix, Burnett, Jones, and probably Brice). I see only one guy with true NFL free safety capability and they are playing him at CB. Burnett is very expendable at this point, given his age and salary, and wouldn’t be totally surprised to see him cut in training camp cuts, although I don’t know about his roster bonus/guaranteed money situation.

  4. Howard May 8, 2017

    Sorry for commenting on that twice.

  5. TyKo Steamboat May 9, 2017

    Goodie… another hybrid?

    How about we switch outta that pussy nickel defense we play on 3 downs … Nickel, nickel, touchdown.
    That defense should be better. Ship Matthews for a 3rd round pick already…