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Possible landing spots for DB Cyrus Jones, 2016 NFL Draft

Cedric Mason- Touchdown Alabama Magazine

His size—5-foot-10 and 197 pounds—causes him to be overlooked at times, yet Cyrus Jones matured into a prominent defensive back during his tenure at Alabama.

He finished last season with 37 tackles, four tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. Jones showcased another skill set late in 2015 with his ability to return punts. The Baltimore, Maryland native led the nation with four punt return touchdowns.

His career at Tuscaloosa ends with 106 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, a sack, 25 pass breakups four forced fumbles and seven interceptions in three seasons as a cornerback (2013-15).

Jones celebrated three Southeastern Conference championships (2012, 2014-15) and two national titles at Alabama. He was solid at the NFL Combine, posting a time of 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He put in a 33-inch vertical and a 116-inch broad jump.

Jones’ time in the 3-cone drill was the third-fastest output among defensive backs at 6.71 seconds. His footwork and ball skills were fluid during on-field workout sessions.

Fifteen teams are in need of a cornerback or defensive back in this year’s draft, with five of those franchises coining the position as a top need. Yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine breaks down some possible landing spots for Jones in the NFL Draft.

Dallas Cowboys—NFC East

Rolando McClain or Morris Claibourne?

This the decision that faces Cowboys’ president Stephen Jones on the eve before NFL free agency begins. Both guys are enforcers on defense, but Dallas may only be able to keep one.

Claibourne, Brandon Carr, J.J. Wilcox and Byron Jones are all talented defensive back, yet all four have moments of inconsistency. The Cowboys finished fifth in the NFL last season in pass defense, giving up 227 yards per game.

Opponents’ completion percentage and touchdown to interception ratio, however, would say otherwise.

Dallas allowed opposition to complete 65.2 percent of its throws and totaled 19 touchdown passes to eight interceptions.

The Cowboys landed at No. 17 in total defense, surrendering 348.1 yards and 23.4 points. Vernon Hargreaves, Jalen Ramsey and Mackensie Alexander are the top prospects in this draft, but Jones is a textbook corner. He is also not afraid to play the boundary in run situations.

Jacksonville Jaguars—AFC South

Aaron Colvin and Davon House were Jacksonville’s leaders at cornerback in its secondary.

Colvin led all corners with 73 tackles, while House chimed in with 60 tackles and four interceptions. Strong safety Jonathan Cyprien anchored all defensive back with 108 total tackles and an interception. All of these are good numbers, yet the Jaguars still ended up being 29th in pass defense last season. It allowed 4, 291 passing yards on a 64.8 percent completion mark.

Opposing quarterbacks tossed for 29 touchdowns to nine interceptions, earning a 97.2 passer rating. Head coach Gus Bradley saw his unit limp to the 24th-best total defense in the league.

Jacksonville gave up 6,000 yards of offense on the year and was ranked second to last in scoring defense (28.0 ppg).

The Jaguars need strong play at the cornerback position, especially going up against quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Marcus Mariota. With Tennessee acquiring running back DeMarco Murray, Jacksonville will need a corner that is not afraid of stopping the run.

Miami Dolphins—AFC East

Miami needs to find some youth at cornerback as it intends to cut four-time Pro Bowl selection Brent Grimes during the free agency period. Grimes, 33, has recorded 420 career tackles and 26 interceptions in 10 seasons with the Dolphins.

Safety Reshard Jones captained the secondary and team in 2015 with 135 tackles, two sacks, six tackles for loss, five interceptions and two scores.

With Brice McCain now at Tennessee, Jamar Taylor is one of few corners returning for Miami.

The Dolphins gave up 4,000 passing yards (250 ypg) on a 64.6 percent completion clip last season. Opponents’ tossed for 31 scores to 13 interceptions and had a passer rating of 97.4.

While it finished 21st in pass defense, Miami was 25th in total defense (376.2 ypg).

Tom Brady is getting older, but he remains the standard in the AFC East for New England. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets will continue to improve. Miami needs ammunition on defense.

Oakland Raiders—AFC West

Life without Pro Bowl cornerback and future Hall of Fame player Charles Woodson can begin for the Oakland Raiders.

He leaves some huge shoes to fill, but Oakland does return D.J. Hayden, David Amerson and Neiko Thorpe from last year’s group. Amerson had a team-high 25 passes defended with four interceptions. Hayden led the trio in tackles with 70.

Drafting Cyrus Jones would not reunite him with former Crimson Tide standout Amari Cooper, but it would also give the Raiders some stability in its secondary. Head coach Jack Del Rio is a defensive mind and with Jones, he comes from arguably one of the best in college football, Nick Saban.

Oakland is building toward being a playoff team, yet its pass defense has to improve.

The Raiders stood at 26th in this category, allowing 4,140 yards (259 ypg) and 25 touchdowns. On a strong note, Oakland did register 14 interceptions and gave up a 86.6 passer rating.

Pittsburgh Steelers—AFC North 

Pittsburgh can literally contend for a Super Bowl next season. All it needs is a competent secondary. Gone are the days of having Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark, but the Steelers return Mike Mitchell and Will Allen. Both recorded 80 total tackles in 2015.

Pittsburgh also welcomes back cornerback William Gay for his 10th season. Gay put in 58 tackles, seven passes defended and two interceptions. Aside from him, the Steelers do not have consistency at corner. Cyrus Jones could bring that element as a three-year starter at Alabama.

Pittsburgh’s pass defense was dismal last season, finishing 30th in the league (4,350 yards allowed). Opposition accounted for 29 touchdowns and a passer rating of 90. 9.

It will be a while before the Cleveland Browns get moving forward, but quarterback Andy Dalton looks vengeance next season as Pittsburgh knocked him out in Week 13.

A healthy Joe Flacco bodes well for Baltimore’s offense, giving the Steelers every reason to bulk up its secondary.

NFL teams that need a cornerback

New England Patriots

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Redskins

New Orleans Saints

Los Angeles Rams

Detroit Lions

Baltimore Ravens

Indianapolis Colts

Tennessee Titans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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