2016 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Alabama CB Cyrus Jones

As you should know by now, our attention has now shifted to the 2016 NFL Draft as it relates to the prospects. From now until the draft takes place, we hope to profile as many draft prospects as we possibly can for you. Most of these player profiles will be centered around prospects the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have interest in.

Breaking down Alabama corner Cyrus Jones.

#5 Cyrus Jones/CB Alabama: 5’9/6 196

The Good

– Quick, twitchy player who fluidly changes direction
– Transitions well, don’t see stiffness in his hips, explodes out of break and closes space quickly
– Looks to have enough long speed to play in man to man concepts
– Drag down tackler but is not contact adverse
– Shows vertical and able to leap and high point the football in off coverage when able to track the throw
– Electric return game, can immediately contribute to the game’s third phase
– Only played on the right side but experience as the field and boundary corner
– Experience with a variety of assignments in coverage, played in a complex defense that did a great deal of pattern reading
– Short but has above average length and hand size given his frame (31 1/4 inch arms, 9 1/4 hands per Senior Bowl measurements)
– SEC pedigree against top competition, tons of big-game experience

The Bad

– Short corner and will be knocked for size and where he can play at the next level
– Underpowered tackler who struggles to bring receivers down, and want to see more effort as the 2nd or 3rd player in a gang tackler
– Struggles to work off stalk blocks in the run game
– Problems finding the ball vertically in coverage, loses track and can’t play pocket or make play on the football
– Vulnerable to getting faked out at the LOS on stems and head fakes, open the wrong way, and get himself out of position
– Most work at right corner, very little on the left


– Two year full-time starter, also started 5 games as a sophomore, 34 total starts
– Career: 108 total tackles, 7 INTs, 4 FFs
– 12.6 yards per punt return in 2015, led college football with 4 TDs
– One of the top athletes coming out of college, prolific wide receiver and defensive back

Tape Breakdown

Though I’m running the risk of making you click out of this article immediately, Jones reminds me a bit of Antwon Blake. Not identical, there are distinctive things Jones and Blake do better than each other, but the overall makeup is similar.

Jones is a quick, twitchy player who exhibits no stiffness in his turn and shows explosion. Like the job he does at the top of the screen here. Mirror the release, and pin the receiver to the sideline.

He came up with clutch plays in big games, too, having a dominant performance in the playoff game against Michigan State. As the half is winding down, and the Crimson Tide holding onto a 10-0 lead with the Spartans driving, Jones high points this fade and picks it off.

Despite just one season as the punt returner, he made his mark with four touchdowns. That included one against MSU, a dynamic return for a touchdown and sealing the win for Alabama.

I don’t mean to lean on the Michigan State game, I’ll show other clips below, but I thought it honed in on his positive and negative traits. In zone, when he can get his eyes on the ball, he can make plays on the ball. Same on a crossing pattern when his back isn’t turned. But when it is, and he’s getting vertical, he loses sense of the football, and does a poor job reading the receiver’s body language (eyes, hands) and making plays on the football.

Fails to disrupt the catch point on this vertical shot. Very similar to Blake in this regard.

Jones is undersized and underpowered, he struggles to bring runners down. Against Georgia, he is thrown off by the receiver, who picks up a decent gain despite Jones having initial leverage as the force player.

Granted, that’s Nick Chubb, one of the top runners in college football, but it gives an NFL talent for us to go off of. And Jones will struggle. It’s where he differs from Blake, who when healthy, is physical and plays much bigger.

It’s hard to figure out the exact cause but he simply has trouble staying on his feet. Some problems with balance. Saw it at Mobile (though field conditions probably played a minor role) and saw it at moments on tape. Watch him Mario-Kart banana peel it at the bottom of the screen.

That’s another similarity with Blake, who constantly struggled with his footing. I have no good explanation for it outside of maybe getting longer cleats.

As twitchy as he is and capable of mirroring at the LOS, he can get beat off the line. Not because of a lack of size but opening up the wrong way and getting fooled on the receiver’s stem. In the title game, the receiver at the bottom beats Jones inside on the slant as the corner turns the wrong way, allowing a ton of separation. Receiver makes the catch and eventually scores.

Jones can be a dynamic return man but I’m having trouble figuring out what system he could thrive in defensively. In a Cover 3, tackle the catch system like in Pittsburgh, he’ll be able to make plays on the football, but his tackling woes is going to bite him, just like it did Blake. In a man scheme, he can turn and run, but he’s struggling to locate the football. These are things I saw at the Senior Bowl, not just in the four games of his I broke down.

It’s making me sour on his pro potential even though I have a soft spot for the vertically challenged, like myself. Jones is just going to struggle to find a permanent home in the NFL, similar to former Alabama corner Javier Arenas.

Projection: Early-Mid 6th

Games Watched: at Georgia, vs LSU, vs Michigan State (playoff), Clemson (playoff), Senior Bowl

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About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • The Notorious TOM

    I’m a big fan of Cyrus, that lil guy plays angry.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Well, I would like him as a late round pick, simply for his punt return ability.
    Didn’t really impress me as being a Pittsburgh Corner, he doesn’t seem to like contact. Would have been nice getting some gifs of him covering longer routes.

  • vasteeler

    Rd1 OG Joshua Garnett – bottom line foster is getting older, is unathletic and is avg run blocker at best. This guy could be a staple of the line under Munchak’s tutelage
    Rd2 OLB/SS – Sua Cravens – his versatility will allow him to fit in any scheme, natural playmaker very similar to troy polamalu
    Rd3 DE/OLB – Carl Nassib – very raw but can get to qb, sneaky athleticism, hard worker, superior burst and initial first step, better and more production than Joey Bosa last season
    Rd4 CB – Harlan Miller – starting to rise up the draft rankings, elite athleticism, elite reactionary quickness, dominated small school competition
    FREE AGENCY – Trumaine Johnson, Tashaun Gipson

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I think I read that the rams are going to tag Trumaine Johnson.

  • vasteeler

    There’s no way the rams can afford Johnson and Jenkins, if that’s the case they must be allowing Jenkins to hit the market and the steelers won’t even be bidders for Jenkins bcuz of his asking price, this could be really bad news if it holds true

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Yeah it was either on the ESPN sports ticker or the NFL network one. They didn’t say anything about Jenkins. You think Sean Smith from KC would cost less?

  • vasteeler

    He’ll command a hefty sum but from who is the question, not all teams covet big corners especially with more teams utilizing small shifty receivers

  • WreckIess

    Cravens is a linebacker. His height, weight, and physical ability all scream out 4-3 OLB. He even only worked out with the LBs at the combine. Trumaine Jackson is getting tagged and we aren’t going to sign Gipson. That’s a rival team’s player who will make some bank in free agency.

  • vasteeler

    You do realize the steelers nickel is basically a speedy 4-3, cravens is a hybrid, I just found out about Johnson that sucks, obtaining gipson would be double bonus bcuz it would also hurt a rival

  • Rusted Out

    Don’t we have enough “lil guys” in our secondary as it is.

  • WreckIess

    That doesn’t really matter because we don’t need an SLB. Cravens is best suited for a true 4-3 not a nickel package.

  • vasteeler

    The same was said of timmons before he was drafted, some guys are just football players and can excel if given opportunity, plus the steelers aren’t necessarily a traditional 34 anymore they’re starting to mix it up and draft versatile players for situational football

  • Ike Evans

    Need a returner someway somehow….im all about it

  • Rinell Vincent

    This guy won’t sniff our secondary so we don’t have to worry about his size or lack there of. If we can grab him for a late round pick he automatically is our return specialist. And the need for AB at punt return won’t be necessary. This kid is a stud in the open field and on returns. He wouldn’t be more than a depth player on defense.

  • Rinell Vincent

    Please no Carl Nassib. He won’t fit and I’m a PSU fan.

  • Rusted Out

    I’m fine with AB taking 100% of all punts. Also, a guy who can field the ball cleanly on a kickoff will do just fine. What I don’t want is the Steelers wasting another pick on a return specialist in the first 4 rounds.

  • Zarbor

    I’m not a fan for us. Korzora hit this one out the park again. If you watch the film he is spot on with Cyrus. Only thing I would add is that Cyrus biggest challenges as he stated can be corrected but it will take work.

    If you look at that Bama team, the backfield was the weakest link. I would not be looking for backfield help from that group.

  • The Notorious TOM

    There’s never enough lil guys. Never.

  • Rinell Vincent

    I agree I don’t want one picked in the first 4 rounds either I mentioned a late round pick. You need to throw some tape on and watch this kid return punts. You might be the only person that is ok with AB returning punts. Yes he’s special with the ball in his hands but he is worth far more as a receiver than a returner. The only reason he’s returning punts is because they have zero trust in anyone else. The organization and the fan base as a whole hold their collective breath when he’s staring up at an incoming punt. Some douchebag gunner could take him out with a single missed fair catch signal. Yes AB needs to be taken out of punt return and this kid in the late rounds can take that spot. And add a level of dynamic return ability for a late round pick. But not before the 6th round.

  • Rusted Out

    You’d field a team full of midgets if u had your way.

  • Rusted Out

    Dri Archer was amazing at returning kicks in college too. That combined with a fast forty time was enough to waste a 3rd on the guy. I’m not interested in a guy drafted as a pure return man at all. Draft a guy that can play football first. Just the idea that any player can come out of college and fix a hole on your team the first year is almost unheard of for the Steelers, return game included. What they’ve been trying to do with these undersized “specialists” has got to stop, but if they haven’t learned how futile it is by now, then they’re not going to change.

  • Rinell Vincent

    To compare Archer to Jones is just ludicrous. You need to look at the tape again. Archer was just a straight line speed guy who ran fast. Jones made a lot of people miss in space which is exactly what you need as a punt returner. Archer stood no chance at playing much on offense he’s was drafted specifically as a specialist as a 3rd round pick. Jones could actually help with depth in the secondary and provide unique playmaking ability as a returner as a LATE round pick. Can’t compare the two. Jones came from a big time school, made top tier talent and big time schools look silly on punt returns. Archer just ran fast at a sub level school. Like I said you need to look at the tape again. Comparing the two your just reaching again like always. Jones is a completely different animal. Archer was afraid to even hit the hole hard and was hesitant to even return kicks. Was more inclined to kneel the ball than try and make a play, with even knowing that’s the only way he can make a name for himself and the only way he might touch the ball. Jones has a defender mentality and can’t wait to catch the ball to make people look silly. The two dont compare.

  • Rusted Out

    I wasn’t comparing Archer to Jones, just the idea of a return specialist. If they’re looking at him as a CB first, and a guy who can help in the return game second then I’m all for it. Debating about a guy’s abilities when has yet to be drafted by the Steelers or even play a down in the NFL is just silly. Also, a 6 footer isn’t too much to ask for IMO. All done with this topic.

  • The Notorious TOM

    Team fulla 5’9 killers.

  • Rinell Vincent

    Yes he hasn’t played a down in the NFL but neither have any of the players entering the draft. But there are some that are safe to say are going to good things at the next level. It’s called potential and what said player did at the college level and against the best competition. This kid was a man amongst boys when he had the ball in his hands. But overall I’m talking about taking a late flyer on this guy who can really impact the field position game, regardless of height and regardless if he can be a CB first. That would just be a bonus. There isn’t another player I’d want more for just the return aspect in this draft than Jones.

  • Rusted Out

    It is not safe to say any of these guys are going to be good at the next level. That’s exactly what I’m trying to express to you.

  • Rusted Out

    haha stop

  • Rinell Vincent

    Express to me? Not quiet. You defiantly are a glass half empty kind of guy aren’t you? Not safe to say anyone is going to be good at the next level? Your optimism is over flowing. I can name about 20 guys who are easily a safe bet to be good at the next level. Where do you think the superstars come from, not from college but from a warehouse in the Midwest somewhere that just manufactures pro bowl NFL players like an assembly line? Yes it is safe to say.

  • Rusted Out

    K, gimme your top 20 and I’ll bow down and tell you how brilliant you are after the draft, and then after their first few years in the league… You’re just fishing for an argument. This might be worth having after we know who the Steelers have selected.

  • Rinell Vincent

    I’m not here to measure dip sticks here bud but your arguments aren’t very justifiable. To say it’s not safe to say any of these guys are going to be good at the next level just doesn’t make sense. Come on man your better than that. I don’t fish for arguments I state facts. I make Mel Kiper look like Sean Salisbury. And yes every year there are 15-20 safe picks in every draft.

  • Rusted Out

    OK so to put this to bed, would you put Cyrus in your 15-20? K, Goodnight.

  • Rinell Vincent

    As a return specialist maybe but I think he would be on the outside looking in. What is considered safe are players mainly in the trenches drafted in the first few rounds. Jones is a late round prospect so I wouldn’t put him in that category. Night

  • John21

    If only