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Indianapolis Colts

2023 Colts Rookie Review: Jaylon Jones

Jones started 10 games after an impressive training camp earned him a spot on the Colts' 53-man roster. 

Jaylon Jones

2023 Statistics

  • 17 games
  • 10 starts
  • 787 snaps
  • 5 pass break-ups
  • 44 tackles
  • 1 tackle for a loss

The Big Picture

Jones was the last of three cornerbacks the Colts drafted in 2023, following JuJu Brents (second round) and Darius Rush (fifth round). The Texas A&M product consistently made plays – and was consistently available to practice – throughout training camp, leading to the Colts making a difficult decision to waive Rush and keep Jones on their 53-man roster. 

Jones primarily played special teams until starting cornerback Dallis Flowers sustained a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams. He started against the Tennessee Titans in Week 5 and was a fixture of the Colts' defense the rest of the season, playing at least 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps over the final 13 games of 2023. 

"He had some up and down moments," general manager Chris Ballard said, "but I thought he played really well for the most part."

Jones, by one of Pro Football Focus' advanced metrics, compared favorably to some of the NFL's top cornerbacks in 2023:

Table inside Article
Receiving yards allowed per coverage snap, min. 400 coverage snaps
Player Team Receiving yards/coverage snap
Jaylon Johnson CHI 0.39
Sauce Gardner NYJ 0.46
Patrick Peterson PIT 0.60
Michael Carter II NYJ 0.62
Joey Porter Jr. PIT 0.70
L'Jarius Sneed KC 0.71
Jaylon Jones IND 0.72
Tariq Woolen SEA 0.77
Devon Witherspoon SEA 0.81
Kendall Fuller WAS 0.82

Jones' 0.72 yards per coverage snap allowed is the fourth-lowest for a rookie in the last 10 years, per PFF, behind only the Jets' Sauce Gardner (0.59, 2022), the Steelers' Joey Porter Jr. (0.70, 2023) and the Raiders' Nate Hobbs (0.71, 2021). 

That stat isn't everything – Jones allowed a passer rating of 108.5 when targeted in coverage, per PFF – but it's a decent representation of the solid foundation laid by the No. 221 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He wasn't thrown at much – which can be a skill in and of itself – and when he was, he didn't allow an avalanche of big plays. Another thing Jones did well was prevent explosive gains after the catch: He was tagged with allowing 57 total YAC, the lowest among regular starting cornerbacks in 2023. 

None of this is to say Jones will be guaranteed a starting spot again in 2024 – he'll have to compete with Brents, Flowers and anyone else the Colts may bring in at outside cornerback in the coming months. But he's made believers of his coaching staff and front office over the last 10 months, and the Colts are encouraged by what Jones did in 2023. 

"I thought we got really good play out of Jones, especially being a seventh (round pick)," Ballard said. "I give Anthony (Coughlan), our scout in the southwest, all of the credit for Jones. All of it – he gets all of it. He pressed, he kept bugging me about it and finally I looked at him and said, 'I'm taking him. If he stinks, it's on you. I'll take the blame for it, but you know it's on you. If he's great, you get all the credit.' He gets all the credit because I think the kid is going to be a really good football player for us."

View the best photos from cornerback Jaylon Jones' rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts.

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