This morning I am going to focus on a relatively unknown and underrated Colin Jones, who the San Francisco 49ers drafted in the 6th round of April's draft. It did come as a shock to most of us that the 49ers went with Jones at safety instead of better known players such as Deunta Williams and DeAndre McDanniel.
That said, Jones was a work out warrior for Texas Christian following the season and turned a lot of heads at TCU's pro day despite not being invited to the Scouting Combine.
There will be a little different spin in regards to this article. There really aren't an abundance of legitimate scouting reports in regards to Colin Jones. So, I have decided to give you some basic information in regards to Jones' post-season performance and how we equates to the NFL.
Player Bio From Texas Christian University
2010: A second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection ... started 12 of the 13 games he played ... second on the team with a career-best 80 tackles and 11 ½ for loss ... set a career-high with 10 tackles in his final game, the 21-19 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin ... had a sack for a 7-yard loss against the Badgers while adding two pass breakups ... totaled three sacks on the season ... recorded nine stops against UNLV while also returning an interception 30 yards for a touchdown ... totaled eight solo tackles versus San Diego State, highlighted by a pair of sacks ... tallied 3 ½ tackles for loss as part of seven stops at Colorado State ... totaled seven tackles in three straight games (Baylor, SMU, Colorado State) ... closed the regular season with his first career fumble recovery and four stops at New Mexico.
2009: Limited to seven games, including five starts, due to injury ... missed the season opener at Virginia and the final five contests ... recorded an interception in the SMU game ... had a career-high nine tackles to go with a quarterback hurry in the 38-7 win at BYU ... totaled seven stops, including one for loss, the week before against Colorado State ... also had a TFL at Air Force ... posted three tackles and a pass breakup in wins over Clemson and New Mexico.
Texas Christian had the best scoring defense in all of college football in 2010 (12.0 PPG), and Colin Jones was an integral part of that success. He finished the season with 80 tackles, 53 Solo Tackles, 3 Sacks, 1 INT and 1 TD. Pretty much filling up the stat board in every possible way. Jones also finished his college career on a high note against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, where he ended up leading the team with 10 tackles and a sack.
Colin Jones has drawn comparisons to former Dallas Cowboy All-Pro, Cliff Harris, in terms of the fact that he was a later bloomer in college and shocked those scouts in attendance of his pro day with superior athletic ability.
At 6 foot, he is the perfect size for an NFL Free Safety, but what makes Jones more appealing is the fact that he is extremely fast, has the ability to contain receivers up the middle and has been extremely decent in the coverage game since taking over as TCU's starting FS.
Look, Jones is not a player that is going to come in right away and contribute greatly on the defensive side of the ball. What he will bring is superior athleticism in special teams, act as a gunner in the kick game, and maintain his performance on special teams initially.
NFL Draft Scout has Colin Jones as the 13th best free safety in the draft, and the 294th best overall player in 2011. This was way up from his ranking prior to TCU's pro day.
Positives: Great play recognition. Quickly distinguishes bubble screens and attacks the play well. High motor and will chase plays down all over the field. Aggressive tackler. Leadership abilities. Hard hitter and will lay out receivers over the middle. Tough in run support. Has a lot of potential to contribute on special teams.
Negatives: Does not have the athleticism to run with receivers. Gives too much of a cushion in coverage and gives up underneath routes. Upright in back pedal and displays sloppy footwork. Struggles to find the ball in the air when in man-to-man coverage. Does not change directions well. Can struggle to shed wide receiver blocks. Appears lethargic at times and does not bring the same intensity on every play.
Not an extremely inviting scouting report if you ask me. I don't know where CBS gets the idea that Jones doesn't have the athleticism to run with receivers, that is completely wrong. When you run a 4.34 forty yard dash, you have the speed to run with pretty much any receiver in the NFL.
I did notice the cushion coverage while watching a few tapes of TCU's defense, and that is something that he is going to have to fix. You cannot give opposing offenses the ability to break you down with short and intermediate routes, because they will in the NFL. His back pedal and coverage ability did seem a little stiff at times, and this could be a major issue moving forward. It will force him to get turned around on certain plays, giving up huge yards on occasion. However, this is something that can be learned and fixed moving forward.
Play recognition cannot be understated in terms of safety play in the NFL. This is something that we saw lacking in regards to the 49ers safety play over the last couple of seasons. Too often, the likes of Dashon Goldson and Mark Roman had been caught completely off-guard and took themselves out of the play immediately. It is a necessity to recognize the offensive formation, how the skill players are lining up and where to rotate your coverage accordingly. Colin Jones acted as TCU's secondary QB, which meant that he was asked to understand these rotations and schemes prior to the ball being snapped. This is an invaluable aspect of his game.
Putting It All Together
Colin Jones was a workout warrior this off-season and that allowed him to get drafted. If it wasn't for his pro day performance you would have been looking at an undrafted rookie free agent, looking for a spot on a teams practice squad. Instead, he electrified those who were in attendance and saw his draft stock skyrocket.
If Jones is ever to become a starting safety in the NFL, it is going to take good coaching and some seasoning. There is no way that he will be ready to see a lot of playing time on the defensive side of the ball in 2011. Mechanically, he still has a lot of issues to overcome and correct. Best case scenario would be him working well with Ed Donetell, and fixing these problems that have been addressed in this article. Worse case scenario is that he will be a special teams stud who rarely sees the field on defense. Either way, this pick has to be considered a reach, but one with potential to pay dividends moving forward.