Skip to main content

Which Defensive Rookie Could Be Week 1 Starter for Patriots?

Arizona State cornerback Jack Jones turned heads at during New England's offseason program.

The New England Patriots drafted Cole Strange to be an immediate starter on their offensive line. But three rounds later did they expect to get a Week 1 starter in Arizona State cornerback Jack Jones?

While Strange seems to have the inside track to start at left guard, it's Jones - according to a weekend report from ESPN - who has emerged as a candidate to start at cornerback. Signed and sealed as one of the Patriots' three fourth-round draft picks, Jones caught the coaches' attention during recent OTAs and minicamp and has a legitimate shot entering training camp to be on the field as a start when New England kicks off its season Sept. 11 in Miami.

The Patriots are crowded and talented at cornerback with veterans such as Malcolm Butler, Jonathan Jones, Terrance Mitchell and Jalen Mills, but Jones has already displayed athleticism and ball-hawking skills that could shove him into the starting lineup.

A year ago the Patriots entered camp with perhaps the NFL's best cornerback tandem in veterans Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson. But this year Jones is in the mix for the job of covering AFC East receivers like Tyreek Hill (Dolphins), Stefon Diggs (Bills) and Garrett Wilson (Jets).

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Despite a troubled college career, Jones has the ringing of his former coach.

“It’s a good spot for him [New England], as there will be people there to keep the thumb on him,” Arizona State coach Herm Edwards told ESPN. “I told him, ‘You’re at a place now where you have to check all the boxes.’ He’s been a handful, but he’s a good kid. Loves football. Loves competing. Once he’s in the building, on the field, he’s all about football now.”

Jones originally went to USC. He was arrested for breaking into a restaurant in 2019, and he plead guilty to second-degree misdemeanor commercial burglary. He left USC over academic issues, went to a junior college, and then made his way to Arizona State. In 2020, he was suspended for fighting during practice.