The Patriots doubled down on their second pick of Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft. New England selected Houston cornerback Marcus Jones in the third round with the No. 85 overall pick.
Here are five things to know about the new Patriots cornerback
He was a cipher machine as a senior.
Jones saved his best for last.
As a senior, Jones had five interceptions in 13 games and also had a forced fumble. Jones’ five picks led the American Athletic Conference in 2021 and were third in the NCAA.
He was able to record nine interceptions during his four-year college career. He actually played at Troy for his first two years before moving to Houston after the 2018 season.
His skills as a football player go beyond cornerback.
Not only was Jones one of the best defensive ballhawks in the college game in 2021, but he was also arguably the best returner in the nation. Jones’ four return touchdowns (two kickoffs, two punts) led the NCAA in 2021. He was also fifth in yards per punt return (14.4) and third in yards per punt return (34) last season.
Jones thrived in the return game his entire college career, recording six kickoff return touchdowns and three punt return touchdowns in four years. His 28.4 yards per punt return is the 15th best in NCAA history and his 14 yards per punt return is 24th best in NCAA history.
While Jones appears to be in line to replace Gunner Olszewski in the second leg, he also brings receiving talent to New England. He entered college as a receiver before quickly moving to cornerback. Jones was able to show off his receiving skills in 2021, catching 10 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Jones’ prolific and versatile season helped him win the 2021 Paul Hornung Award, which is given to the most versatile college player.
It projects like a split wedge.
The Patriots’ biggest loss of the offseason came early in free agency when All-Pro corner JC Jackson signed a big contract with the Los Angeles Chargers.
But Jones probably won’t directly replace Jackson on the outside. With his 5-foot-8, 174-pound frame, several draft experts predict Jones will be a slot machine corner. Jones did not participate in the combine or his pro day due to a shoulder injury, so his exact speed is not known. But you have to be fast enough to set records as a returner, and that speed should help him as a nickel cornerback.
Jonathan Jones has been the Patriots’ starting corner for most of the past four seasons. Jones, entering the final season of his three-year contract, suffered a season-ending midseason in Week 6 of the 2021 season, making Myles Bryant the team’s starting corner for the second half of the season.
He’s a budding rapper.
The versatile footballer pursues several careers.
Jones is also in the musical game, releasing his first studio album as a rapper/songwriter in September 2021 titled “Complications.” He even has a stage name, which is called “Elliott.J”
While recording monster numbers in college, Jones actually wrote, produced, and mixed all of his music on his own. In an interview with KPRC 2 in Houston, Jones shared that Drake was his musical inspiration.
“He was one of those guys who basically started the wave of R&B music and put his little spin on it,” Jones told KPRC 2 of Drake. I love the production and the different genres of music he does.
Jones sees a lot of similarities between football and music.
“Hard work and dedication,” Jones said of what happens in both things. “Most rappers would end up going into the studio and recording something and having a whole bunch of people doing their thing, but I’m basically starting from a blank slate. I end up finding a sample, recording it and making a beat around it, then I’ll end up mixing it up a bit and sending it to my sound engineer, then to my lead engineer.
In the interview, Jones even shared that wherever he moves to once he starts his NFL career, he will add a small studio to it.
He moved around a lot as a child and was a star athlete in all three sports.
Marcus Jones was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but with his father serving in the military, his family moved around a lot. At age 4, he and his family moved to Dayton, Ohio, and started playing football at that age.
In his freshman year of high school, Jones’ family moved to Enterprise, Alabama, where he was a tri-sport athlete at Enterprise High School. In addition to playing football, Jones played basketball and ran track. He was actually an all-district basketball player and set a school record in the 200 meters (22.35).
But Jones quit basketball early in his senior year of high school, calling it the “biggest risk” of his athletic career.
“I was a great basketball player and had the potential to play at the next level, but I saw more potential in football, so I stuck with it,” Jones told VoyageHouston.
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