Cowboys Eyeing A Safety Role For Byron Jones, But No Final Decision Yet

INDIANAPOLIS – Take a stroll around downtown Indianapolis during the NFL Combine this week, and you're likely to see a familiar face.

Byron Jones might not be the biggest name among last year's first-round draft pick, but it's understandable why he'd be plastered all over advertisements for the weeklong event.

After all, it was Jones' record-setting broad jump of 12-feet, 3-inches that helped propel him into the consciousness of draftniks everywhere. It might not have been the reason the Cowboys picked him 27th overall, but it did help put him on the map during the road to the NFL draft.

"The thing about Byron is he had a lot of other things that went with him," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones. "He's a good football player and he had unbelievable intangibles off the field. Did the Combine help him? Of course it did. But he had a lot of good qualities that went with it."

The rookie defensive back enjoyed a successful but tumultuous debut season, as he started 11 games at four different positions. His versatility allowed him to serve as the Cowboys' utility man, spending time at corner, in the slot and at safety.

He finished his debut season without a takeaway, but with 65 tackles and eight passes defensed.

Entering his second season, the question now becomes what to do with him full time. He played both cornerback and safety in college, and he's proven he has the same capability at the professional level.

To hear it from Stephen Jones, it sounds like the answer might be safety – though he wasn't willing to commit to that line of thought.

"I'd say we're leaning that way, but I wouldn't say it's for sure," he said. "It still depends, probably a lot on how our player acquisition goes in the offseason."

That's a valid point when considering the Cowboys' depth chart in the defensive backfield. Both of the team's starting safeties, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox, have another year remaining on their current contracts. Church signed a four-year, $8.8 million extension in 2012, and Wilcox is finishing the $2.8 million deal he signed in 2013 as the team's No. 80 overall draft pick.

Meanwhile, the cornerback position looks to be in flux. Morris Claiborne will enter free agency next month, and Orlando Scandrick is recovering from a major injury. Brandon Carr has one more year on his contract, but there is wide speculation the Cowboys could look to restructure his deal – or cut him entirely to improve their cap figures.

Fortunately, in Byron Jones they appear to have found an athlete versatile enough to cover them on multiple fronts.

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