NFL.com's Cynthia Frelund listed her most underappreciated players from each team in the AFC on Monday, which paid homage to a member of the New England Patriots' secondary.
Frelund said that fifth-year cornerback Jonathan Jones is the player she believes is the most underappreciated player in New England. She explained:
Passes thrown to middle-of-the-field targets (between the numbers) while Jones was in coverage resulted in incompletions at the fifth-highest rate among corners in the NFL last season, per my computer vision. His lack of interceptions is not an accurate indicator of his efficiency in coverage, as spatial measuring shows that his impact in both the passing and rushing phases of the game helps stop opponents' drives. Jones has the highest run-stopping contribution metric among corners in the entire AFC East -- yes, part of that is attributed to where he lines up. But it just goes to show that -- surprise, surprise -- New England has been deploying Jones in a smart and effective way.
With Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore on the roster, along with J.C. Jackson - who had a phenomenal 2019 season - it's easy to forget about Jones if you aren't paying close attention to his production on the field. Because he typically plays in the slot, he often gets overlooked because he isn't shadowing an opponent's No. 1 pass-catcher. That job is usually done by Gilmore. But that shouldn't be a knock on Jones, who is one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the NFL.
Last season, Jones earned a 73.6 overall PFF grade, which ranked him 31st among all qualified cornerbacks in 2019. As Frelund mentioned, Jones also excels as a run stopper, earning an 86.8 run defense grade by PFF, which is No. 1 among all cornerbacks.
Jones has become an immense value in a league in which the passing game is prominent and defenses have begun transitioning to nickel base defenses.
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