The Green Bay Packers usually put a lot on the plate of their rookie classes. A team that typically relies solely on the draft has to in order to be successful.
Josh Jones was the Packers’ second pick in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft. The selection was a bit of a head-scratcher due to the position listed next to his name.
Theoretically, safety was not a need for the defense. The Packers have Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett. Both of those players are two of the best at their position across the league.
Clinton-Dix really came into his own last season earning his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Burnett grew into a versatile chess piece as the season progressed. He played all over the formation.
Kentrell Brice was a player that progressed as the season went on as well. He’s instinctive and able to hit ball carriers with a vengeance. He got some playing time toward the end of the season with injuries leaving the secondary cupboard bare.
Add all those things together, and the Jones selection on the surface looks to be one that was more of a luxury than a necessity.
Mike McCarthy made it clear that they were looking for versatility with their safeties.
From the first day of their offseason program, Jones has been moved to various positions. He has played deep safety, inside linebacker, and nickel cornerback.
He has some experience doing most of those things in college.
He played deep safety and in the slot at NC State. His deep speed is something the Packers defense was looking to add to their secondary.
Essentially, in this setting, he would be taking a similar role that Micah Hyde filled for various seasons. Hyde did some good things while he was in Green Bay, but was always going to be a limited athlete. Hyde was a good tackler, and assignment sure.
That occasionally made up for the fact that he was consistently getting burned in man coverage and unable to keep up with speed receivers.
Jones will not have that issue. Jones can run like the wind. He’s a supreme athlete. He’s unlikely to be as technically sound, but that is something that will come with time and experience in the defense.
The inside linebacker position is something that will be new to him. While he has played close to the line of scrimmage, he has never lined up as a linebacker.
The Packers experimented with this idea with Burnett last season. It’s possible that they attempt to follow the new wave of linebackers with an NFL that is trending even more toward creating mismatches.
The days of the traditional linebacker are nearly extinct. That’s part of the advantage that Jones can help create.
Jones is physical enough to play near the line of scrimmage in run support. His speed can help him cover athletic tight ends. Those are both things the Packers have struggled with in recent years.
For all the hand-wringing that came from the fans over their cornerbacks, their coverage in the middle of the field was not much better.
Adding another athlete in the middle of the field will help make for a better defense.
Jones gives the Packers an option on passing downs of pairing he and Burnett in the middle of the defense at linebacker. That’s supremely more athletic than the trio of Blake Martinez, Jake Ryan and Joe Thomas.
Something that was certainly clear after the Packers were demolished by the Atlanta Falcons was a need to get more athletic.
Jones gives them an opportunity to be more athletic all over the field.
Dom Capers loves chess pieces. He loves versatility. The Jones pick may have looked like a luxury at the time.
The more details that emerge, the more it looks like Jones was a perfect selection.
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