When the Philadelphia Eagles selected Sidney Jones in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, many thought the Birds were getting a “steal.” That group included Howie Roseman, who said this at the time:
“He was a top-10 player on our board, just like Derek [Barnett] was.”
Jones may very well have gone in the first round had he not suffered an Achilles injury leading up to the draft.
But that hypothetical isn’t so relevant now. The reality is that Jones has been a bust to this point in his career. The Washington alumnus has appeared in only 23 out of 54 possible games since being drafted. He’s logged just eight starts during that span. Injuries and struggles have plagued him.
There might just be hope for Jones yet, though. At least, that’s some Eagles fans seem to believe heading into the upcoming season.
Today’s Question of the Day is: Are you buying or selling a Sidney Jones breakout in 2020? Let’s look at some points on each side.
- Jones made two very clutch plays down the stretch in 2019. His sole defensive snap against the New York Giants in Week 14 resulted in a key pass deflection on 3rd-and-3 with the game tied at 17 to 17 with 1:35 left in regulation. Jones then broke up a Dak Prescott pass intended for Michael Gallup in the end zone with 1:21 remaining to essentially seal the Eagles’ critical Week 16 win over the Dallas Cowboys. These two plays represent a small sample size but, hey, maybe they also indicate a turning point for Jones’ career.
- Believe it or not, Jones was actually the Eagles’ highest graded cornerback by Pro Football Focus in 2019. He ranked 68th out of 135 cornerbacks while Avonte Maddox was 89th, Jalen Mills was 101st, Rasul Douglas was 116th, and Ronald Darby was 129th.
- NJ.com reporter and BGN alumnus Mike Kaye reports Jones is “working with notable DB developer and trainer Ronnie Braxton in Texas this offseason. Braxton has worked with Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, AJ Bouye, Bradley Roby, new Eagles DB Will Parks and many more through the years.”
- Without even being specifically prompted to talk about his new teammate, the aforementioned Parks told Eagles reporters that Jones is going to “come back a dog” after working with his new trainer.
- Perhaps new Eagles defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel will find a way to get the most out of Jones.
- In theory, Jones could vie for the starting cornerback job opposite of Darius Slay. He has height and length that Maddox lacks.
- Jones failed to seize a starting role when given the opportunity last season; the coaching staff clearly lost trust in him. Jones logged 214 defensive snaps in his first eight games before only playing 79 in his final nine.
- Jones was a healthy scratch as the seventh cornerback on the 53-man roster in Week 9 and Week 13. He also only played special teams snaps in three games: Week 11 vs. New England, Week 12 vs. Seattle Seahawks, and Wild Card Round vs. Seattle Seahawks.
- On that last point, the Eagles opted to start Maddox on the outside in the playoffs against Seattle despite Jones’ late season flashes.
- The Eagles seemingly prefer Maddox to Jones. Derrick Gunn reports the 2018 fourth-round pick is the favorite to start across from Slay. If you’re not buying that report, consider what Roseman said about Maddox earlier this offseason: “I grew up admiring the Darrell Greens and Aaron Glenns of the world, and these guys, they’re explosive, twitched-up guys who had an incredible vertical, and it’s hard to get the ball on them. Avonte’s got a lot of those same characteristics, if you look at his profile, his height, his length. And so nobody is talking about kinda him in the same way. This is a guy who has started on the outside for us in playoff games. He has the ability to have sticky coverage with receivers inside or out. Obviously, he’s also played on the back end. He’s got a great mentality, and he’s got a great physical skill set. He’s an explosive, twitched-up guy as well, so yeah, we feel like he’s a guy who can play all over the secondary and certainly feel comfortable with him outside as well.”
- There are still concerns about Jones’ injury history and durability. Teammates and coaches have called his toughness into question.
I get why people want to believe in Jones. I’m rooting for him to succeed, too. It’d be awesome if he lives up to his potential. But I’m not holding my breath. I fully expect Maddox to be starting across from Slay in 2020. I think there’s a better chance he breaks out than Jones does. Maybe Maddox has a short leash if he struggles and the coaches throw Jones in there. Jones could also get playing time if either Maddox or Slay gets hurt. I’m still selling until he gives me better reason to buy in.
What say you?
Are you buying or selling a Sidney Jones breakout in 2020?
This poll is closed