The New England Patriots could replace Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson with a 2022 Day 3 draft pick.
According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, fourth-round selection Jack Jones "has quickly put himself in position to challenge for the role."
Having traded Stephon Gilmore last offseason, the Patriots won't begin the season with a dominant secondary on paper. Jones is expected to compete with Jalen Mills, Malcolm Butler, and Terrance Mitchell for a starting outside role. Reiss said the 5-foot-10 rookie impressed while playing alongside Mills in minicamp.
Herm Edwards, who coached Jones at Arizona State, endorsed New England as the perfect place to keep him focused on football. Jones was arrested on suspicion of burglary for breaking into a Panda Express in 2018 and dismissed from USC because of academic issues.
"It’s a good spot for him, as there will be people there to keep the thumb on him," Edwards said. "I told him, ‘You’re at a place now where you have to check all the boxes.’ He’s been a handful, but he’s a good kid. Loves football. Loves competing. Once he’s in the building, on the field, he’s all about football now."
Edwards also called Jones "a very explosive athlete" who "has pretty good ball skills."
"He has good anticipation," Edwards added. "Sometimes his eyes get him in trouble, because he’s on a mission to intercept balls and he’ll guess a little bit. And weight-wise [177 pounds], you’d wish he’d be a little bit bigger. But he’s not afraid to tackle. He’ll throw his body at people."
Whoever earns the starting job will fill big shoes in Foxborough. Jackson helped the Patriots finish second in passing defense, interceptions, and opposing quarter rating last season.