Elijah Jones NFL Draft Prospect Profile and Scouting Report

Boston College Cornerback Elijah Jones - 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Name: Elijah Jones

School: Boston College

Year: Senior (Sixth year)

Position: Cornerback

Measurables: 6’ 1 ½”, 185 lb (Combine Measurements)

Combine: ARM: 31 ½”. HAND: 9 ¼”. VERTICAL: 42.5”. BROAD: 10’ 11”. 40-YD DASH: 4.44. 10-YD SPLIT: 1.54

 

Stats:

Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com

 

General Info:

Jones was rated the top cornerback in the state of New York and number eight overall player in the state by Rivals coming out of high school in 2018. He starred at receiver and cornerback at Cardinal Hayes High School in Harlem, NY. After receiving 11 collegiate offers, Jones chose Boston College.

Jones appeared in four games and registered four pass break-ups in his first season, then was redshirted. Jones appeared in 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2019 and registered 27 tackles and one pass break-up.

In 2020, Boston College welcomed a new head coach–current Packer defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley–and his play started to take off. He played in 11 games and registered 35 tackles with five pass break-ups in 2020 and played in 12 games and registered 28 tackles, five pass break-ups in 2021. Jones earned honorable mention All-ACC after his 2022 season in which he led the team with 13 pass break-ups to go along with two interceptions.

Jones returned as a graduate student in 2023 and had his best season, earning first-team All-ACC after intercepting five passes, breaking up eight passes, and forcing one fumble (which was scooped for a score by a teammate). He only played in the first nine games of the season and left the team due to undisclosed personal reasons.

Jones had a very good showing at the NFL Combine, posting a 4.44 40-yard dash, 10’11” broad jump (tied fourth-best at CB), and 42.5” vertical (tied best CB). His numbers equated to a 9.54 RAS, one of the highest scores in this year’s cornerback class.

After playing for six seasons at Boston College, Jones turned 24 in January, making him one of the older prospects in the draft.

 

Positional Skills:

Strengths

Jones really excels in man coverage. Per PFF, he was tied for first in Division I with a 90.8 man coverage grade for cornerbacks in 2023 (minimum 200 snaps). He allowed seven receptions on 24 targets in man for an NFL passer rating-against of 9.0 (seventh-best CB in Division I, third-best among draft-eligible prospects). He has long arms that are always active, leading to many pass break-ups (36 for his career, 21 over his final two seasons). He uses great hand placement against receivers, knowing how to avoid penalty.  

Jones also excels in zone coverage. As well as he is able to mirror receivers, he does a great job keeping his eyes on the quarterback and has great awareness of where he should be; he has great instincts. He is great at recognizing receiver and running back screens. He allowed four receptions on 12 targets in zone, for an NFL passer rating-against of 7.6 (fifth-best CB in Division I in 2023).

Jones was productive as a playmaker, intercepting seven passes in his career, all of which came in the last two years. He had five interceptions in 2023, tied for the best mark in the ACC with Miami safety Kam Kinchens. His NFL passer rating-allowed of 18.1 was third-best in Division I in 2023 among draft-eligible CB; he allowed 13 catches on 40 targets (32.5%). For his career, he allowed 109 catches on 221 targets (49.3%).

Jones was a great tackler in college. In 2023, he missed just three tackles. He had a rougher year tackling-wise in 2022 with 10 missed tackles, but that is an outlier for the rest of his career. His long arms are on display when he tackles, as he wraps and drives ball carriers to the ground with great technique.

Speed and explosion are also strong suits of Jones. Jones was a track star in high school. He tied for the best vertical at the Combine and had the fourth-best broad jump of all corners at the Combine. His explosion shows up on tape, as he routinely appears to leap out of the building on crossers and 50/50 balls and uses his explosive legs to dive after many passes. Jones plays aggressively, and was only penalized twice in 2023. He has great footwork in his backpedal.

Weaknesses

For as good as Jones looks in man and zone coverages, he can look lost at times when playing off the ball; his man coverage skills are definitely stronger. Jones has success when he can lock in to his guy and stay with his guy. He had a good NFL passer rating-against in zone, but only faced 12 targets. He will succeed in the NFL when asked to play more man.

If Jones falls asleep and gets beat off the line of scrimmage, he tries to use his track speed to correct the mistake. This works for him sometimes, but can lead to him getting beat on deep balls. He has only decent lateral quickness. Against Florida State’s 6’6”, 231-pound wide receiver Johnny Wilson in 2023, Jones got beat off the line and even his track speed couldn’t prevent a deep completion. 

Jones is not great in run support. He could do a better job of attacking downhill against ball carriers, and is instead too hesitant at times. He doesn’t miss many tackles, but he also could be more aggressive and trust his instincts in run support.

Jones is tall and lanky and is not a thumper on tape. He isn’t afraid to go up against bigger receivers, but seems to be more timid when facing bigger receivers, possibly out of the thought of getting bullied by them.

Jones’ age may be concerning for some teams, as he will be one of the oldest players in this year’s draft at 24-years-old. He also left the team after nine games in 2023 due to personal reasons. Definitely something worth monitoring for GM’s.  

 

Fit with the Packers:

Jones’ former college coach, Jeff Hafley, is the new defensive coordinator in Green Bay. Jones self-proclaimed he is the “smartest DB in the draft” thanks to his tutelage under Hafley. Hafley proclaimed that Jones turned himself into a solid draft pick with his play at Boston College. The relationship is already there, and Hafley would know the kind of player he’s getting with Jones.

Jones could step in and compete for reps in nickel packages in week one, and maybe take over as the primary slot guy before being a possibility on the outside; he has all the tools to play on the outside.  With Jaire Alexander being banged up last year, Eric Stokes proving very little thus far (injuries have limited him), Carrington Valentine and Corey Ballentine falling into the “too-early-to-call” category, and Keisan Nixon providing more value as a kick returner, the Packers could use solidifying at the corner position.

If the Packers use a more aggressive defense like some are predicting they will in 2024, they need more sticky corners that can disrupt receivers and allow their front to put pressure on the quarterback. Jones can be that guy. Jones excels in man coverage and uses his hands wisely to avoid penalties.

Jones seems like the kind of under-the-radar pick that Gutey could pick earlier than many expect. I expect Jones to be an early day three pick, but a team that likes to run a lot of man coverages could fall in love with his length, aggressiveness, football IQ, and tackling skills, and take him late on day two. Green Bay could potentially turn into a team that runs more man coverages under Hafley.

Hafley is going to tell Gutey and Matt LaFluer everything they need to know about this guy. With that relationship already in place, and with Jones checking off multiple “Gutey draft traits” (highly athletic, productive, versatile, Senior Bowl attendee), I would not be shocked to see Green Bay select Jones, especially with one of their third round picks.

Stats within article courtesy of PFF.

 

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Comments (3)

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LLCHESTY's picture

April 20, 2024 at 04:29 am

If it wasn't for his age I think he would be in the running for 4th rounder for the Packers but I don't see Gutey loosening the age thing before the 5th round.

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golfpacker1's picture

April 20, 2024 at 08:15 am

Hey LL, I have been thinking about the age thing in regards to who we draft for quite awhile. And age is something we hear about in every draft and has been a "set in stone" criteria for the NFL for too long. It needs to be dropped in the level of importance because of this question, are NFL teams really drafting players now with the expectation the players will be on the team in 5 years, let alone 10 years? It seems that with how the salary cap really works in the NFL, teams can't expect to keep most players even to a second contract.

Sure, if you strike gold and the players are really good, you definitely want to try to keep them, but the cap dictates picking and choosing who you can afford to keep. Players like Elijah Jones are ready to play now because they do have the experience younger players don't.

Or another way to look at it is RB Ray Davis, also an older prospect, but really talented. He is ready to play from day one. What is the shelf life of an NFL RB these days? Maybe 4 years, starting right away, is how long teams should be looking at when drafting players who are older.

Payton Wilson has age and injuries on his resume, but if he stayed healthy for 5-6 years, he just has so much potential and skill in a down year for LBs.

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10ve 💚's picture

April 20, 2024 at 01:24 pm

GolfPacker1, I totally agree. Or, like Nagler says, I agree one thousand percent.

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