UConn’s Byron Jones has experience at corner and safety. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay said on Friday’s Dale & Holley program that UConn defensive back Byron Jones would be a smart pick for the Patriots in next week’s draft.
McShay said he views guard, cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle as New England’s biggest areas of need going into the draft.
The Pats lost both Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner this offseason. McShay noted that there won’t be a player of Revis’ caliber in the draft.
“This year, I don’t think there’s necessarily that elite cornerback, but I do think there are a handful of good ones,” McShay said.
“They fit different schemes. Trae Waynes from Michigan State will be long gone. He’s a press corner. Marcus Peters is probably the best man-to-man cover corner in the draft. [He] had some behavioral issues, was kicked off the Washington team. He could drop a little bit, but I don’t think he’ll even drop as far as 32. Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest is probably the most complete cornerback in the class. Not a burner, not the strongest guy, but really good recognition. Can play off, can play at the line of scrimmage.
“The one guy I think that is intriguing that could be on the board at 32 would be Byron Jones from UConn. He’s a versatile defensive back with experience at safety and corner. Everyone kind of looked at this past year’s tape and said ‘Well, he regressed,’ but he injured his shoulder in the preseason and reinjured it during the year and just wasn’t the same player, but you go back and study that 2013 tape. You see a more aggressive corner. You see some of the explosiveness that everybody saw at the combine.”
Other positions McShay said the Pats could look at were safety and wide receiver. The Patriots recently brought in Georgia running back Todd Gurley for a visit, but McShay said he “can’t imagine” that Gurley would be available when the Patriots select 32nd overall in the first round.
“When healthy, he’s one of the five, six best players in this draft class,” McShay said, adding that he doesn’t think Wisconsin back Melvin Gordon will be there either.