GREEN BAY – The Packers are getting faster in the defensive backfield.
A couple of hours after drafting Washington cornerback Kevin King and his 4.43-second 40-yard dash, the Packers added North Carolina State safety Josh Jones and his 4.41 clocking late in the second round on Friday night.
“That’s impressive in its own right,” Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst said of Jones’ speed. “Then you watch the tape and he backs it up.”
At 6-1, 220, Jones has the size to go with it as well. Gutekunst sees him being able to play a number of roles in Green Bay’s back end – centerfielder, in-the-box safety, hybrid linebacker – much like veteran Morgan Burnett.
“That’s a good comparison,” Gutekunst said.
“He’s a very good tackler, in space and in the box. He’ll shoot the gap and take on the big guys inside. He has no problem doing that. With Josh, the versatility, that’s exciting for us, the ability to do so many different things.”
Gutekunst added that the more N.C. State moved Jones around, the more he produced. To go with the tackling ability, he also proved capable of covering receivers, backs and tight ends.
Jones racked up a team-high 109 tackles in 2016, plus three interceptions. In three years for the Wolfpack, he picked off eight passes, including four as a redshirt freshman in 2014, second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the second-highest total ever for a Wolfpack freshman.
Jones echoed Gutekunst’s emphasis on versatility – “I can do whatever,” he said – though the Green Bay safety he apparently looks up to is not Burnett but Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a player he’s watched highlights of regularly.
The Packers took Jones with the No. 61 overall pick, 28 selections after taking King early on Friday night. Jones said he was simply “waiting patiently,” and when the Cowboys were on the clock at No. 60, he saw a call on his phone from Green Bay.
“I just jumped out of my seat so fast,” he said. “I knew this was my opportunity.”
Both Jones and King will have a chance to make their mark early in a Green Bay secondary that is already promising to look different in 2017.
“These guys are going to have to come in and earn their way and become pros,” Gutekunst said. “The way these guys are wired, the gifts they have, we have high expectations.”
From the small town of Walled Lake, Mich., outside of Detroit, Jones came off as “confident” and “very smart” when he met with the Packers at the NFL Scouting Combine, according to Gutekunst.
Now he’s rather excited as well, of course.
“I was so, so, so happy that my name got called, especially by a great organization like this,” Jones said.
“All I’m going to say is my best football is ahead of me, I promise.”
2017 DRAFT TRACKER