2022 NFL Draft: Marcus Jones Scouting Report

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Marcus Jones NFL Draft Overview

Position: Cornerback

Height: 5’8″

Weight: 185 pounds

School: University of Houston

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Marcus Jones 2022 NFL Draft Profile

If being underrated was an award, then Marcus Jones would have four of them. Since Jones didn’t play for a Power Five college or play Alabama as Cincinnati did, he hasn’t gotten the attention he deserves. He was a superstar cornerback playing for Group of Five schools Troy University and later at the University of Houston. Most draft analysts have Jones ranked a top ten cornerback. But he would probably be a top-five cornerback if he played for a school like Alabama or Georgia.

Some would even argue that Jones may not be as good if he played in the Power Five since the Group of Five opponents isn’t as competitive. However, that hasn’t been the case for Jones. He played well when he did play against Power Five colleges. Jones had eight tackles, one pass defended and an interception against 25th ranked LSU during his freshman season. And he had six tackles and two passes defended against Nebraska the following season. At Houston, Jones had six tackles against Texas Tech.

Jones Received Numerous Awards

As far as awards go, Jones may need more than one trophy case. The number of accolades that he received during his college career is a testament to how good of a player he is. For the 2021 season, Jones won the Paul Hornung award which was last won by Philadelphia Eagles and former Heisman trophy winner Devonta Smith. He was also a consensus All-American, first-team All-AAC, second-team All-AAC, and the AAC Special Teams Player of the Year. Additionally, he was a first-team All-AAC and first-team All-American in 2020. Amazingly, he had two games of at least 100 yards in punt return yardage, which led the nation. In that same year, Jones led the nation in punt return average of 19.8 yards and total punt return yards for 337 yards.

He had to sit out for the 2019 season after he transferred from Troy to Houston. He was a first-team All-Sun Belt in 2018 while at Troy. Jones was second-team All-Sunbelt and the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year in 2017. During his freshman year, Jones set a Troy single-season record for most kickoff returns with three. He became the 21st player to have two kick return touchdowns in the same game, a college football record. Jones also had an interception that he returned for over 100 yards against Arkansas State.

Jones Was a Return Specialist in High School

He was a three-star recruit out of Enterprise High School in Enterprise, Alabama. Just like his college career, he was a standout return specialist in high school. During his high school career, Jones had a combined 4 touchdowns of punt and kick returns.

Outside of football, Jones is a musical artist. As an artist, he goes by the name Elliot. J. He has recorded several songs and even has his own Elliot.J YouTube channel. His Bad Boy music video has over 14,000 views. In an interview last season with KPRC2’s Vanessa Richardson in Houston, Jones said he wants to win a Grammy and a Super Bowl.

Strengths:

  • Elite return specialist
  • Quick acceleration
  • Versatile player
  • Great instincts
  • Good in zone coverage
  • Good in man coverage
  • Great defender in the red zone
  • Great hip movement
  • Good tackler

Weaknesses:

  • Small for his position
  • Slows to locate downfield passes
  • Grabs often
  • Potential to be dragged by larger players

NFL Comparison: D.J. Reed

Teams With Need At Position:  Arizona CardinalsBaltimore RavensBuffalo BillsChicago BearsDenver BroncosDetroit LionsGreen Bay PackersHouston TexansKansas City ChiefsLas Vegas RaidersLos Angeles ChargersNew England PatriotsNew York JetsPittsburgh SteelersSan Francisco 49ersTennessee Titans

Projection: 2nd Round

Bottom Line on Marcus Jones

Jones is probably the most underrated cornerback in the draft. His small size for his position is the main thing that may not attract NFL general managers to draft Jones early. If not for his size, he would probably be the number one cornerback coming out of the draft this year. Jones also doesn’t have a 40 time from the NFL Combine this year. But, he is the most versatile player in the draft. In 2021, he played cornerback, wide receiver, and return specialist. Even though Derek Stingley Jr. and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner are ranked as the top two cornerbacks in the draft, Jones had a statistically better season than both of them. Even with the consideration of Stingley Jr.’s injury, Jones’ career totals were better.

One stat about Jones that has some irony involves his combined punt and kick return touchdowns. During the 2021 season, Jones tied Avery Williams in the stat column to become the best return specialist in the history of college football. Both Williams and Jones are college career leaders to have the most combined kickoff and punt return touchdowns with nine. Ironically, they both made their college debut in the same game when Troy played Boise State in 2017.

It would not be surprising if an NFL coach tries to move Jones to the wide receiver since he would be one of the shortest cornerbacks in the league. However, Jones’ small stature has yet to be a hindrance for him in playing the cornerback position. Any team that needs a return specialist may decide to draft Jones in the second round if he is still available. When NFL teams re-examine Marcus Jones’ official NFL draft scouting reports, it should be enough to move him up on the draft board.

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