The Kansas City Chiefs added another young player to their secondary on Saturday with the selection of former Ball State cornerback Nic Jones.
Here are five things to know about the newest member of the Chiefs' secondary.
1. Jones has good size with long arms and seems at his most comfortable in press-man coverage.
The 21-year-old Jones possesses a long frame at six-feet-tall and 189 pounds with 32-inch arms that he used effectively in man-coverage during his time in school. Here's more from The Athletic's Dane Brugler, who wrote the following in his draft guide:
"Jones puts his long arms to good use in press-man and looks to disrupt route timing from the get-go. He plays quick, long and controlled with a natural feel for crowding receivers early and late. He projects as a draft-and-develop press-corner."
Lance Zierlein from NFL.com wrote a similar assessment in his pre-draft analysis, too:
"Jones has a natural feel for making plays on the football. He's more confident and consistent at maintaining his feel for the route from press than from off-man."
2. He filled up the stat sheet last season with 14 passes defensed.
Jones flashed potential during his first three years at Ball State, tallying eight passes defensed and an interception in 26 games (6 starts), but he really turned it on during his senior campaign with 14 passes defensed and two picks in 11 games (9 starts).
Those 14 passes defensed led the team and ranked 23rd among qualified cornerbacks. Jones saw a significant uptick in coverage snaps (390) and targets (68) last season, but among cornerbacks with 65+ targets in 2022, he surrendered the fifth-lowest completion percentage (44.1%) in the FBS.
It was an exciting year of production for a player who didn't waste his opportunity.
3. Jones was a regular on Ball State's special teams' unit.
In addition to his contributions on defense, Jones also garnered experience on special teams at Ball State. Here's more from Dane Brugler:
"Jones was a regular on kick return and punt return coverages, including two blocked punts in his career."
Additionally, here's a quick note from Lance Zierlein on Jones' special teams' abilities:
"Teams will appreciate his ability to challenge punts and kicks off the edge."
Jones recorded 52 snaps on punt return coverage, 39 snaps defending field goals and 32 snaps on kick return coverage in 2022. If he is to earn a spot on the roster out of training camp as a seventh round pick this season, his experience on special teams will likely be a major reason why.
Here's what Jones had to say about his mindset on special teams following the draft:
"It's just another way of life for me. Football is football. It doesn't really make a difference what you're playing out there. For me, it's just another chance to make plays. I feel like if I'm out there, it's because they trust me to make plays, so no matter how big or how small, I want to make them."
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Ball State defensive back Nic Jones in the 7th Round (Pick 250) of the third day of 2023 NFL Draft.
4. He is a versatile player who has experience on the outside and covering the slot.
Jones was primarily an outside cornerback at Ball State, tallying more than 600 snaps in that role last season, but he also logged snaps covering the slot (42) and in the box (23). His size and length should provide the Chiefs with some flexibility in regard to his role on defense moving forward.
5. Jones grew up in Detroit, Michigan.
Originally a wide receiver at Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology, Jones didn't become a starter at cornerback until midway through his junior season. He clearly had a knack for it, however, and earned scholarship offers from Ball State, Western Michigan and Akron.
Jones eventually chose Ball State, and despite enrolling at just 17 years old, the task wasn't too big for the young cornerback. He seemed to improve throughout his time in college, and following a season in which he truly put his name on the map, Jones is headed to Kansas City as a member of the Chiefs.