Philadelphia Eagles: Sidney Jones has a platform to prove himself

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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

With both of the Philadelphia Eagles’ incumbent starting corners on the active PUP list, Sidney Jones has a unique opportunity to showcase his growth.

Is there a player on the Philadelphia Eagles‘ roster that is more polarizing than Sidney Jones?

Some feel Jones has every necessary skill set to become an elite corner in the NFL, and will one day be a team’s top outside option for the next decade, whereas others believe the former Washington Husky has yet to and may never fully recover from his college ACL injury and will largely be looked at as a disappointment.

But no matter which side of the fence you fall on, it’s hard not to feel bad for Jones and the circumstances that brought him into the league.

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The 42nd overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Jones was almost universally considered the best corner in his class before suffering an ACL injury at Washington’s Pro Day.

From there, Jones sat out almost the entirety of his rookie campaign in 2017, making a lone appearance in Week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys. Though this lone performance hardly tipped the scales in either direction for his future potential, a solid 2018 offseason helped Jones establish himself as the team’s starting nickel corner for the majority of the 2018 season.

Did he play as well as 2017 slot cornerback Patrick Robinson? No, but he played well enough to silence any bust-happy haters on the fanbase’s fringes.

But as the Eagles officially begin training camp, Jones has an opportunity to finally showcase his abilities and make a case to start on the outside.

With incumbent starters Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby both beginning camp on the active PUP list,  Jones should get the majority of the Eagles’ first-team wraps at cornerback alongside his 2017 draft classmate Rasul Douglas and 2018 surprise Swiss army knife Avonte Maddox.

Not sure, this is just training camp, and plenty of players have looked good in pinnies and shrivel when the pads come out, but for a pedigree player like Jones, there’s serious value impressing in the dog days of summer.

For one, the team’s top two options, Mills and Darby, are set to hit the open market at the end of the season. While the team could conceivably retain both players, after extending Carson Wentz to the most guaranteed money of any player in the league, it may be wise to go young at CB2 and retain the player with the better overall season.

Furthermore, Rod Jones did play reasonably well in the slot last season, logging 25 tackles, two tackles-for-loss and two passes defended. He’s simply a better fit on the outside physically, as his 6-foot, 181-pound frame is practically prototypical for a man-press corner.

Sure, the slot is getting more and more value with each passing season as teams continue to cement the three-wide set as the new base package, but most elite slot corners are smaller and more agile than Jones, making his long-term fit at the position a question.

Who knows, with a strong summer that bleeds into the preseason, it’s entirely possible Jones could leapfrog a player like Mills and establish himself on the outside – improving two positions going into the 2019 season.

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Over his tenure with the Eagles, the one gaping hole in Mills’ skill set is getting beat over the top due to his less-than-ideal 4.6 speed. If Jones can prove his ability to keep up with speedsters like DeSean Jackson in practice day after day on the outside, it may help the team’s overall defensive effectiveness in both the base and nickel package and return Jim Schwartz‘s defense to its 2017 elite status.