College football is a numbers game in that, even with 85 scholarships, there is always juggling going on when it comes to the roster. If a coaching staff misses on recruiting enough players at a position a couple of years in a row, their season could be crippled with one or two injuries at that position.
It’s a big reason why versatility is more valuable than ever in recruiting and it’s what makes Jaylon Jones such coveted recruit. The Allen, Texas native has the skill set to play both safety positions, but he also can line up on the outside as corner and be very effective in man coverage.
Jones can flat out fly. He has great top end speed and shows the ability to transition smoothly. He doesn’t have ideal size for the position, but has the frame to add more weight and should be able to get to around 200 pounds at the next level. He looks to have better arm length than most players his height. It looks to be commensurate with a player who is a couple of inches taller than him.
Based on his size, I’m not surprised that Jones isn’t someone who is going to lay the wood every time he comes up to hit someone. That can be highly overrated though because it’s way more important to be a sound tackler than wraps up consistently and that’s how Jones tackles.
He does a great job of coming from depth, cutting a ball carrier in half, wrapping up, and tackling through. There is no grabbing or unnecessary lunging. He is a fundamentally sound tackler.
When he is lined up as a single high free safety in coverage, he does a good job transitioning and can plant his foot in the ground and explode to the football. Most of what I saw from him was stuff thrown in front of him so I didn’t get to see him really open up and react to plays over the top. I know he has the speed that suggests his range should be very good, but I would have liked to see if teams tried to go over the top on Allen and if he was getting involved in the play as a single high free safety. I did like what I saw from him in terms of adjusting to crossers and picking up players over the middle of the field. He made some plays on the football and flashed decent ball skills.
Where I really liked Jones the most is when he was lined up in press coverage as corner. He’s the kind of player that can match up well with bigger receivers and can get a good jam at the line of scrimmage. He looked great playing press in some camp settings this spring as well.
I was also a bit surprised by how loose his hips looked when he played off man. Even though I thought his backpedal looked a bit high and kind of choppy, he did not have wasted movement with his transitions and was really quick out of his breaks. He used his length well to break up the football too.
His versatility means he would likely be a fit in any scheme, but I think him playing as a press corner in a defense may be his best fit at the next level.
Jones is going to find a fit on a roster and I would be surprised if he didn’t start a lot of football games at the college level. I think there are other more dynamic playmakers at defensive back in this class, but his consistency and versatility mean that his floor as a prospect is very low. He’s a safe bet to be a very good player for whatever school he ultimately chooses.
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Jamie Uyeyama was a way too small defensive tackle at Idaho State University and a more appropriately sized rush end at Simon Fraser University. He was a coach at the college and high school level and is the son of Ron Uyeyama, a member of the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and high school football coach for over 30 years (hence the site name, Son of a Coach).