The Miami Dolphins could do with adding some depth at the safety position through the draft and one potential late-round prospect could be worth taking.
Early round prospects such as Xavier McKinney and Grant Delpit are regularly mentioned as possible options for the Dolphins in the first or second round, giving the team a guy that could claim a starting role right out of the gate.
But with the Dolphins taking a long-term view to their development, there could be room to add another project player at the position later on in the draft and Brandon Jones of the Texas Longhorns could very well be that.
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Jones, a three-year starter in the 40-acres, entered college as arguably the best safety in his class, ranking in the top-50 of all prospects prior to the 2016 season.
He started just one game during his freshman season, recording 16 total tackles (12 solo) while being used regularly on special teams and occasionally as a punt or kick returner.
Over the next three years, the Nacogdoches, Texas native became a regular starter for the Longhorns and showed great versatility to line up in the various safety positions, including some nickel packages.
Over his four-year career in college, in which he became a team captain, Jones combined for 233 tackles (175 solo) with 14 tackles for a loss.
He had just four interceptions during that time though and only broke up seven passes, with some struggles when used in man coverage.
At the NFL level, experts appear to view him as an immediate contributor on special teams while potentially developing into a free safety with some coaching to work on his route recognition.
The Dolphins could be the perfect landing spot for Jones, with head coach Brian Flores having previously worked as the safeties coach for the New England Patriots between 2012 and 2015.
His defensive mentality and experience working with players at the position would give Jones the opportunity to develop his game and work on improving areas that have prevented him from truly reaching his potential in college.
He isn’t going to be a day-one starter on defence, but could become a promising long-term project for the team to work with that could eventually compete for a starting role if he shows a willingness to improve his game.
He has a competitive nature and puts his body on the line each and every week for the Longhorns, so there’s no real reason to think he wouldn’t be ready to do the same at the NFL level.
If the Dolphins are going to build a strong, competitive team over the next couple of years, they should look to find some gems in the later rounds and Jones, while having soft hands and some fundamentals to work on, could very well be one of those players in the right environment.