Is Nic Jones the next gem at cornerback for the KC Chiefs?

Will Nic Jones break through in a crowded young secondary?
Ball State cornerback Nic Jones (1) is tackled by Tennessee defensive back Jourdan Thomas (25)
Ball State cornerback Nic Jones (1) is tackled by Tennessee defensive back Jourdan Thomas (25) / Jamar Coach/News Sentinel / USA TODAY

The Kansas City Chiefs have experienced considerable success over the past five years, largely attributed to their knack for uncovering talent in various forms. One position where Brett Veach has consistently excelled in scouting is cornerback. Could seventh-round rookie Nic Jones be the next hidden gem at cornerback for the Chiefs?

Following their first-round pick of Trent McDuffie, as well as the selections of Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson on day three, the Chiefs decided to use another late-round pick to secure a cornerback. This time, they chose Nic Jones, formerly of Ball State.

In all likelihood, Jones caught Kansas City's attention primarily due to his remarkable arm length, measuring in at 32 3/8 inches. The Chiefs have long prioritized cornerbacks with lengthy arms, and Jones fits the mold perfectly.

Chiefs defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, frequently deploys his cornerbacks in single-man coverage, and Jones excels as a press-type corner rather than a zone defender. Furthermore, he has demonstrated ball-hawking skills, with three interceptions on 91 targets over his final two collegiate seasons.

Will Nic Jones make the Kansas City Chiefs roster after preseason and training camp?

However, Jones still has room for improvement in his technique, particularly in tracking deep balls and using his hips, which could pose a significant challenge at the professional level. Additionally, his speed is less than ideal for a cornerback, as a 4.51 second time in the 40-yard dash will likely struggle against the likes of Stefon Diggs, Ja'Marr Chase, and Davante Adams.

Jones' special teams ability was likely another appealing factor for the Chiefs. Throughout his time at Ball State, he successfully blocked both a kick and a punt. Although he is expected to be lower on the defensive depth chart during his rookie season, behind at least L'Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams, and Jaylen Watson, his contributions on special teams may be the key to securing his spot on the active roster after training camp.

In conclusion, given the Chiefs' past success with uncovering late-round gems at cornerback, especially in 2022, there is optimism that Nic Jones could be the next in line. While he possesses the ideal size and arm length that the Chiefs covet, his speed and technique shortcomings will need significant improvement. It is unlikely that he will see much playing time on defense in 2022, but his contributions on special teams will be crucial in securing a spot on the active roster for the regular season.