When the Eagles drafted Sidney Jones with the 43rd pick of the 2017 draft, they were playing the long game.
After two years, that game isn't over.
Far from it.
On Tuesday morning, Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said when they drafted Jones on April 28, 2017, they knew that first season was going to be basically a redshirt year as Jones recovered from a torn Achilles suffered at the Washington pro day. They were right. Jones played just a handful of snaps in the meaningless regular season finale.
The Eagles were OK with that because they knew they would still have Jones' rights for four years and because they viewed him as a first-round talent.
After a redshirt season and an up-and-down 2018 season that they viewed as a rookie year, Roseman and the Eagles are far from giving up on Jones.
You gotta be patient with young players in this league. We've seen it with Brandon Graham, we've seen it with Nelson Agholor, we've seen that it doesn't always click right away with everyone. But when they have the right fortitude, when they have the talent in their body, there's a chance for it to click. And that's what Sidney has. He's a determined guy, with a good work ethic and a talented guy. We won't judge that pick right now and we'll let it play out.
The Eagles are right to preach patience.
I understand that fans became frustrated by Jones' inability to stay healthy during the 2018 season with lingering hamstring injuries. But there's no reason Jones can't become the type of player the Eagles thought they were stealing in the second round just a couple years ago.
For one, he won't turn 23 until May 21. He has time to figure it out.
And two, Jones really is talented. Sure, we've only seen that talent in spurts, but there was a reason he was considered a surefire first-round pick before his Achilles snapped. Roseman and personnel head Joe Douglas both mentioned how well Jones played as the Eagles' nickel cornerback early in the 2018 season. Because of the injuries and a recency bias, Jones' early-season success has gotten lost.
"I'm excited to get Sidney back out there," Douglas said, "and more importantly, no one is more excited than Sidney to get back out there."
Jones is in a crowded cornerback room leading into the 2019 season. He's joined by Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox and Cre'Von LeBlanc, so it'll be up to Jones to separate himself. Some folks have already given up on Sidney Jones, but the Eagles clearly haven't. They shouldn't.
The long game is long from over.
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