Byron Jones: In or Out?

This encroaching off-season will be a very stressful one for the Dallas Cowboys. They have some big names looking for some big contracts and they’ll need them if they want a Super Bowl LV run. One of these names is cornerback, Byron Jones. But does the Cowboys No. 31 deserve to sit at the table with Jerry first? Alex Lewis (@alexlewis226) takes a look..


Why Byron Jones deserves his big money in (31)0 words.


Byron Jones from the second that he was seen at the combine, has consistently demonstrated his unique and impressive athletic ability. Able to set a world record standing long-jump of 12”3’ and recording a 4.36 in his 40-yard dash, Jones has never been needing for athletic confidence. When pairing this demonstration of prowess in the gym to the various measurable’s that Byron Jones is considered “perfect” for, like height and hand size, it’s not particularly shocking that he was drafted in the first round.

Image result for byron jones combine
Julio Cortez/AP

2019 for Jones, considering it being just his second season as a cornerback, was a highly impressive campaign for the UCONN alum. Despite missing the first game of his entire career in Week 17, Pro Football Focus ranked him the number one defensive free-agent prospect back in December. Jones faced just 64 targets on the year, which can be easily attributed to his impressive coverage ability, and allowed just 395 passing yards, a similar yards-per-target to DPOY winner Stephon Gilmore.  

During his time with the Cowboys as a cornerback, No. 31 has been asked to play a lot of press-bail coverage in cover 1 or cover 3. Not only has this made it hard to rack up the turnover numbers expected but playing cover 1 can lead to cornerback’s being on islands. Given this challenging scheme fit and the top receivers he has faced in his contract year like, Michael Thomas, Stefon Diggs and Kenny Golladay, Byron Jones can definitely consider 2019 a job well done.

The defensive situation outside of Texas could easily end up helping Byron Jones’ prospects of a long-term deal with the Cowboys. This years draft and free-agency period are both far deeper in top-quality safeties than high level cornerbacks and this should increase the urgency on the Cowboys side to get Jones signed up and bought in, rather than wait.


Why the Cowboys should move on from Jones in (31)0 words.


Byron Jones’ chance to stay on this Dallas Cowboy’s roster for the long-term has been severely hurt by his inability to come up with turnovers, recording just two interceptions in 79 games. This is many ways has become a microcosm for the ‘Boys defence who rank 26th in total turnover’s on the season and failed in big situations to come up with the ball. It is true to say that grading Jones shouldn’t come down to purely his takeaway potential, and that is correct, but it is definitely part of the bigger picture.

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

Jones has also struggled because of the changes that the Cowboys have seen on the defence since he entered the fold in 2015. Deciding whether he would be better suited to corner or safety took the team until 2018 to decide on, with Jones playing at free safety until then. This switching between where he played has meant that Jones only has two proper years of statistics to analyse when making the decision on his contract, and it doesn’t help that during those years Jones has gone from DC to DC, with Rod Marinelli, Chris Richard and now Mike Nolan. This lack of secure and consistent coaching may cause the current regime to doubt the numbers that the cheque book would require to hold onto Jones for a long time.

Although not his fault, Jones has also faced a continuously rotating and revolving backfield of team-mates to play alongside, which hasn’t lent itself to consistent play that the position requires. Barry Church, Brandon Carr, Morris Claibourne and Orlando Scandrick to name just a few. The great defences of NFL history often have uniformity at the core as they develop over seasons, and while I’m in no way suggesting the ‘Boys are that, Byron Jones case for a contract has not been helped by a lack of stability.  


To sign or not to sign; that is the question!


The obvious answer on how to deal with Byron Jones is to franchise tag him, and by pure chance with the turn of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Cowboys will have use of both the Franchise tag and the Transition tag for this season. This should help to alleviate some of the pressure on the Jones family with both Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott looking for new deals. Byron Jones has obvious raw talent, with refinement coming since he was committed to the position and this is only going to get better. With a new system and co-ordinator on the horizon again, I would implore Jerry to get the long-term deal done and trust in the process.

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Pick It Apart; LJ Collier

Pick it Apart!

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?

We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….

Pick: #29

Player: LJ Collier

Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks

Grade: B-

Analysis:

If you managed to get this fair with a perfect board, firstly you’re lying and secondly, you’d have been downed by this pick.

Seattle danced around the back end of the 1st round only ending up picking once. They invested that pick in Collier, the defensive end out of TCU. This has all the hallmarks of a classic Seattle pick; rugged, raw, and explosive with a decent amount of power. He isn’t the biggest or most athletic, but his profile is one that usually translates to a decent pass rusher in the NFL.

He’ll need to get a bit more bendy at the knees and hone his change of direction skills but will try and utilise his strength and his bull rush to knock the QB off his perch.

He doesn’t have a lot of starter experience in his College career and that will need to be developed by Seattle but I think we need to trust the coach and the front office on this one because historically, Seattle are a team who usually have different draft boards from everyone else and this pick seems to be no different. Their past record in drafting speaks for itself and whilst it’s hardly the start of the Legion of Boom 2, I am not going to sit here and say he’ll be a bust. You don’t bet against Pete Carroll. He is the master at getting the most out of the young studs.

Fantasy Football Impact:

Seattle aren’t quite the defence of old but still are a decent defence in the right matchup or at home. Collier will look to add to the sack column from day 1.

Pick It Apart; Noah Fant

Pick it Apart!

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?

We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….

Pick: 20

Player: Noah Fant

Drafted by: Denver Broncos

Grade: A-

Analysis: Lots of people excited about this pick and it’s absolutely great value here. Denver obviously didn’t fancy Devin Bush at 10 after trading out of the spot with Pittsburgh. Denver acquired the Pittsburgh 2nd round pick and a 3rd rounder in 2020 on top of Fant here at 20 and dare I say it, John Elway had a good draft for Denver

Noah Fant, the Robin to TJ Hockenson’s Batman at Iowa comes in to a great spot here with statue Flacco under Center (for a week at least). Fant’s pass catching ability, route running and speed are of elite levels and whilst his contested catch rate could do with improvement (along with his strength and blocking ability), he is a guy that could potentially come in day 1 and produce for this team.

Fant produced a star studded show at the combine, finishing top for the TE class in all but 3 categories. He had the fastest 40 time along with broad and vertical jump gold medals.

He will be a Red Zone monster ( has a 1 TD every 4 passes caught ratio at Iowa) but will also be a guy that finds plenty of space often.

Another interesting fact, Fant wants to be an orthopaedic surgeon once his playing days are over.

Fantasy Football Impact:

Fant had 78 rec for over 1000 yards at Iowa (13.9yd avg) and in the current landscape of Tight Ends in Fanatsy, there will be many GMs (especially in dynasty) willing to take the shot on Fant. You could say they are Fant-asizing about what he could do for them. In his first year, expect a few games here or there of fantasy relevance, but needs to up his strength and contact abilities before becoming a stud.

Joe Flacco has never finished higher than QB 11 (2010) in fantasy but that doesn’t mean he can’t support fantasy relevant players.

Joe Flacco made average players relevant at tight end; Dennis Pitta, Todd Heap, Nick Boyle are all guys that got way more action than they should have done, all because of big Joe.

I fully expect Joe to show Noah some love even in year 1. Fant only has Jeff Heuerman and Tony Fumigali to surpass on the depth chart. Taking it one step further, Rich Scangarello has come over from San Francisco…we’ve just seen the season George Kittle has just had. Add to that, Emmanuel Sanders is coming back from a torn achilles and the Wide Receivers of Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton are entering year 2 in the NFL so Fant could quite easily become a go to in this offence. Don’t be surprised to see 100 targets for Noah in year 1, that could Fant-astic production for a position that usually takes a year or 4 to get embedded in to the league.

Get excited. He should be your TE in dynasty drafts and could be a late round value in redraft unles the hype train sells out of tickets.

Pick It Apart; Josh Allen

Pick it Apart!

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?

We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….

Pick: #7

Player: Josh Allen

Drafted by: Jacksonville Jaguars

Grade: A-

Analysis: It’s funny how you can be shocked and also not surprised with one pick. Yes, Jacksonville are renowned for their defence and how shutdown it can be. Also, their offence is not all that, even with Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles joining the ranks (let’s not also forget about the mighty Geoff Swaim, people). Everyone kind of expeting TJ Hockenson to fill this slot but I guess the talent of Josh Allen won through here for Doug Marrone and the front office. Allen, an overlooked 2 star recruit who was only just a Kentucky grad after a late offer used that as his inspiration to be the best form of himself that he could be, earning team captain honours in 2018. Allen has overcome a lot from his youth; often being sent home from school due to his hygiene, being bullied because of a speech impediment and crying numerous times. Now, he is one of the most feared pass rushers coming in to the NFL and I think his attitude, the way he has carried himself through his life and his desire to be the best is what makes Jacksonville a great destination. I say that because great players always have space made for them on any team. Jacksonville had needs on offence and there were plenty of options available to them, but they still decided to go with Josh Allen.

His knocks are his short arm length (47th%ile at combine) and his small hands (1%ile!) but this is not going to stop him getting to Luck, Watson and Mariota (maybe) on a stacked defence. He brings a wide variety of talents along the line and is a guy who can get to the QB in a straight line or round the bend. He has a variety of moves which he executes to a good level, can set an edge and also is adept at dropping back in to coverage if required.

In summary, the Jags are getting an elite athlete, who can fulfill a number of duties along the line and is another jewel in the crown of this defence which may just find it’s mojo again in 2019. He will fill roles at SAM linebacker and an edge rusher on passing downs, he’ll slot in just fine in the NFL.

But, is it enough to say it was the right pick when there were other needs on offence?

Fantasy Football Impact:

Jacksonville are a perennial top 3 defence in fantasy football, Josh Allen will help keep the Jags at the forefront of people’s mind when picking defences in the double digit rounds. Working opposite Yannick Ngakwoue, they have just had a new delivery of sacks in Sacksonville.

Fantasy Risers/Fallers…Unbelievable Jeff

In today’s extra length podcast, we take a look at the early risers and fallers in fantasy football drafts to give you a heads up as to what to expect in 6 months time and some common trends as to why players rise and fall in ADP.

PLUS! we have a very special interview with a household name over here on these shores and a surprising thing that he has in common with Lee.

We keep you up to date on the latest news including Franchise Tags, combine fallout and a rant on Jason Witten. Duncan from Gridiron Gents tackles the quiz, looking to be the first one to break the 8 barrier!