Few players in this year’s NFL draft have more of a connection to the Ravens than Alabama defensive back Cyrus Jones.
The senior cornerback grew up in Baltimore and attended Gilman High School, and he then developed into a premier defender for General Manager Ozzie Newsome’s alma mater over the next four years.
Jones is certainly no stranger to Newsome, who makes a point to watch his Crimson Tide each week, and he’s out to prove to NFL scouts he can make the jump to the NFL.
“I definitely feel as though I’m underrated, just because of my size,” the 5-foot-9, 196-pound defender said. “But I use that as motivation. I still have to come out here and play. Being 6-1 or 5-9, it doesn’t matter. You still have to come out here and prove yourself and make plays. That’s definitely what I try to do.”
The process of proving himself during the pre-draft process started last week at the Senior Bowl. Jones made it clear with his on-field demeanor and post-practice interviews that he’s supremely confident in his ability to match up with anyone.
“I don’t shy away from competition,” Jones said when asked about his reputation as a bit of a trash talker. “I’m usually a quiet guy, but when you start jawing at me I definitely don’t hesitate to jaw back. I’m usually a quiet guy until somebody starts with me.”
Jones was a highly productive player during his Alabama career.
He had 32 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass breakups in 2015, and finished his career with seven interceptions. He also has big-play potential as a return man, returning 48 punts for a total of 518 yards and four touchdowns. He led the nation in punt return touchdowns and his 518 punt return yards ranked second-best in a single season in Alabama history.
“I’m an all-around player,” Jones said. “I can help in both special teams and on [defense]. And I can be a lockdown corner. I can go inside, I can go outside, and I’m fundamentally sound. And just a playmaker.”
The Ravens are looking to add players to their defensive backfield this offseason, and Newsome has drafted more players from Alabama than any other school. Jones is currently projected as a mid-round pick, and he loves the idea of following that Crimson Tide pipeline back home to Baltimore.
“That’s the team I grew up cheering for, watching, and just having that dream of one day putting on that purple,” he said. “It would be a dream come true. Just like guys from Alabama have the dream of playing for Alabama. It’s the same kind of feeling.”