IRVING, Texas – Without a doubt, Byron Jones helped his cause at the scouting combine last February in Indianapolis when he recorded the best broad jump ever.
Sure, it raised his stock. But shortly after the Cowboys picked the UConn cornerback with the 27th overall pick Thursday night in the NFL Draft, the club made sure to reiterate his ability to play football was the biggest factor in the decision.
"We didn't just draft a workout warrior here," head coach Jason Garrett said of Jones. "He's a heck of a football player and we think he's going to be able to help us as both a cornerback, and potentially a safety. His versatility is something we really liked about him from the start."
Jones broke the world record in the board jump with a 12-3 jump at the combine, where he also had the highest vertical leap (44.5 inches) of any player. Jones also had a 6.78 second time in the three-cone drill. He followed all of that up at his Pro Day at UConn with a 4.4 time in the 40, solidifying him as one of the best, if not the best, athlete in the entire draft.
But Jones also made it clear he's not interested in the attention he gained from the workouts.
"Obviously they saw more than a broad jump," Jones said. "A broad jump doesn't do anything for you in football. I hope they saw an intelligent, athletic player. I guess they're happy with what they saw.
"But I haven't done anything yet," Jones said. "I'm so focused on coming in here and getting to work and proving myself. I'm a Dallas Cowboy now but I haven't really proved myself yet. I can't wait to get going and gaining the respect of the team and the coaches so they're reassured that they made the right choice."
The Cowboys obviously had some needs at cornerback, considering the question marks at the position. Orlando Scandrick is reportedly unhappy with his contract and has missed some voluntary workouts in the offseason conditioning program. Brandon Carr's future with the team is in question because of his contract and even Morris Claiborne might not be ready for the season after missing most of last year with multiple injuries.
With both Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest) and Marcus Peters (Washington) off the board, the Cowboys stood pat at No. 27 and patiently waited for Jones to fall in their lap.
Jones will get the chance to be on the field here at Valley Ranch for the first time next weekend when the Cowboys host all of the draft picks, the undrafted rookies and some invited-workout players in a three-day rookie mini-camp which begins Friday.