With the NFL Draft less than a month away, teams are starting to narrow down their list of prospects. That process including having a limited number of players visit team facilities for what are known as ‘Top-30 visits.’ As the name suggests, each team is limited to 30 such meetings per year.
Over the weekend, we got one of the first reports of a Patriots Top-30 visit. According to Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson, the team will host Houston defensive back and return specialist Marcus Jones in the coming days. This comes just a few days after the Patriots had a scout at the Houston Pro Day.
At 5-foot-8, 174 pounds, Jones projects as a slot cornerback. He has both the straight-line speed and short-area agility to stick with NFL receivers right away. However, his lack of size may limit his contributions as a run defender. Down the road, Jones may be able to contribute some snaps at safety as well as slot corner.
In his final year at Houston Jones showed tremendous production with 13 pass breakups, and an AAC-best five interceptions. Following the season, Jones was named a consensus All-American defensive back.
However, Jones’ game extends beyond the defensive side of the ball. He’s been one of the best kick returners in college football since his freshman year at Troy in 2018 (he transferred to Houston before the 2020 season). In 2021 alone, he averaged 34 yards per kick return 14.4 yards per punt return, with two touchdowns in each category. He had nine total return touchdowns in his collegiate career – six on kickoffs and three on punts.
Jones’ quickness and shifty running style make him look like a natural with the ball in his hands. In fact, Houston even occasionally had him play on the offensive side of the ball – he caught 10 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown last year.
As things stand now, Jones is projected to go late on Day 2 in this year’s draft. The Patriots currently own the 85th pick, which would be right towards the top of Jones’ expected range.
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.