NFP Prospect Focus: Byron Jones and Quinten Rollins
Two of the most talked about defensive backs at the Combine this year were UConn corner Byron Jones and Miami (Ohio) corner Quinten Rollins. Jones was a hot topic because of his record setting jumps and Quinten Rollins because of how well he played in his only year of college football. Both players should be drafted before the end of the third round.
Byron Jones – DC – UConn
Jones is a fifth-year senior and a three-and-a-half-year starter for UConn. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2010, then started the second half of the 2011 season at safety. The following year saw him start all games at safety. In 2013, he was converted to corner and started every game. In 2014 he started the first seven games at corner before a shoulder injury that required surgery ended his season.
At 6010 – 199, Jones has great size. He has excellent length but he needs to get stronger in the upper body. The shoulder injury no doubt set him back some, but he has the frame to play at between 205 and 210 without losing any speed.
While Jones didn’t run at the Combine, he did the other drills, and they were off the chart. His 12’3” standing long jump is the best ever recorded at the Combine since it began in 1985. His 44.5’ vertical jump is one of the best and is 6.78 3-cone and 3.94 20 yard shuttle were among the best of his position group. With those numbers, it’s safe to say that Jones can easily run in the low 4.4’s if not faster.
On tape, Jones doesn’t play to those numbers, but he is good. He plays a lot of zone and off coverage and shows good instincts and reactions. He shows awareness and keeps good position.
Jones needs to improve his footwork. He can get tall with his pedal and isn’t as smooth as his workout numbers would suggest with his turn. He also takes an extra step at times with his transition to close. Still, he tracks the ball well and has good hands. His eight career interceptions attest to that.
When Jones plays press, he needs a better jam, but he shows good mirror skills and, again, keeps good position. I feel his run support and tackling need to improve. He is very willing in support but that his lack of top strength shows with his shed and tackling. He is a good tackler, but not explosive. I haven’t seen any blowup-type hits.
Overall, Jones has a lot of tools to work with, but he is just raw as far as NFL coverage techniques. He is smart and coachable and has a chance to become a solid starter after a period of development. One thing is certain. You can’t teach his size, length and naturally explosive athleticism. That alone will push him up draft boards.
Quinten Rollins – DC – Miami (Ohio)
Rollins is interesting in that he has only played one year of college football. He was a starting guard on the Miami basketball team and decided to play football his final year of college. He became a starter right away at corner, and when you watch tape, he looks like a natural.
He is very quick with loose hips and has very quick transition skills. Rollins didn’t time well at the Combine (4.57) but he plays much faster because of his instincts, footwork and overall quickness.
He is surprisingly good as a press cover guy. He has a strong jam and good mirror skills. He gets on a receivers hip and stays there. His ball skills are natural. He had seven interceptions this year plus numerous PBU’s. Once the ball is in the air, he acts likes it’s his.
Because of his inexperience, he is not as good in off coverage and can be fooled by double moves. I feel that with experience that is easily correctable. I really like his aggressiveness. He attacks in run support, can shed blocks, and is a strong tackler.
There is a lot to like about Rollins, and when you factor in that he has only played one year of college football you have to figure his best football is easily in the future. He needs to improve his 40 time and will get that chance at the Miami pro day. He plays much faster than he times at Indy. Because of his inexperience and Indy speed, he probably won’t go before the third round but this player has as much upside as any in the draft.
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