… And the ball skills to disrupt at the catch point, as evidenced by his five interceptions and 18 passes defended last season.
Rarely in the five games we studied was Jones’ man able to gain more than a foot or so of separation. Opposing quarterbacks completed just 48.7% of their passes when targeting him in 2021, per Pro Football Focus.
Though he’s nowhere near the prototypical size for his position – at 5-foot-8, 174 pounds, he ranked in the first percentile for height, the second percentile for weight and the zero-ith percentile in arm length – Houston mostly deployed Jones as an outside cornerback, regularly matching him up against the opponent’s No. 1 wideout.
Against Cincinnati, he shadowed Alec Pierce, who was selected three picks after Thornton in the second round. Against SMU, he saw a lot of third-rounder Danny Gray. Against Texas Tech, it was Erik Ezukanma (fourth round). Jones held his own against each of those pass-catchers – registering an especially impressive end-zone breakup against Pierce – despite giving up at least six inches to all three. But his diminutive stature did become a detriment at times.
Pierce, Gray and Ezukanma all bested Jones in contested-catch situations, using their pure size and strength advantage to overcome the cornerback’s tight coverage.
Jones’ role is likely to change at the NFL level, where he profiles as more of a slot option. Having both him and Jonathan Jones at their disposal should be helpful when the Patriots face the Miami Dolphins’ lighting-fast duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Marcus Jones also should be better equipped to cover a player like Buffalo’s Isaiah McKenzie than Myles Bryant, who was torched by McKenzie late last season.