*IRVING, Texas - *If I heard it once on the practice fields one summer afternoon in 2000, I've heard it about 100 times since then, but I can still recall Mike Zimmer's trademark line when asked about the depth at cornerback.
"You can never have too many good corners."
I would imagine he got asked that question in 2000 after the team drafted cornerbacks with three out of its five overall picks that year. Turns out, other than a serviceable Mario Edwards, none of them were really in the "good" category.
But his point was simple – get these guys in here and let them all compete because you can never have enough capable guys to cover receivers.
So I understand and even agree with the logic. But still, I think Byron Jones should end up playing safety when the dust settles.
I qualify it that way because sometimes you end up playing a certain position out of necessity. Even Flozell Adams started out his career at guard before becoming a five-time Pro Bowl left tackle. And sticking to the position, Ronnie Lott had to play corner before it was suggested he play safety instead.
So maybe Jones will need to play safety right now. A lot of that will depend on the health and production of Morris Claiborne.
But I still think, if all things are equal, Jones will be a better player at safety.
That's a little bit hard to dissect right now because we've never seen him attack the ball and hit anyone. We don't know what kind of toughness he has. Everything we've seen from his college tape suggests he is physical. But then again, taking on Marshawn Lynch in the open field isn't something he's had much practice with. I guess you could say the same for him covering a guy like Julio Jones or Dez Bryant.
But when I see Jones' skill-set, I see a safety. Record-setting broad jumps and jaw-dropping vertical leaps just seem like better traits for a safety.
I know cornerbacks have to jump with receivers too, but when I think of a guy who can broad jump more than 12 feet, and translate it over to football, I see a safety cheating over to a sideline post pattern and jumping into the picture at the last minute.
Plus, safeties have to be aware of everything. There aren't many safeties who aren't smart players. Check that, there're probably not any good safeties who aren't smart players.
We know Byron Jones is a smart kid, although that doesn't always mean he'll be a smart player. But, I think he will.
He's got good height, a frame that can put on good weight, and he can probably do all of that and maintain his speed and leaping ability. Combine that with his awareness skills and you could have a really dynamic safety.
I know the Cowboys have J.J. Wilcox, and right now, he's good enough with this defense. But let's be honest, Wilcox was on the wrong end of a game-changing play in Green Bay that resulted in a key touchdown for the Packers in the third quarter. Wilcox has made a few other good players in some big wins, but overall, it's a position that could be upgraded.
And I'm not saying Wilcox wouldn't slide over eventually to strong safety. That's actually where I think he's a better fit. And no, I'm not talking about replacing Church, either. I'm just talking about where guys would fit the best.
Whether it's right now, later this year or two years from now, I think Byron Jones will end up being not only a safety for this team, but a really good one.