The Lions seem to have two keepers at cornerback, as Amani Oruwariye is having a breakthrough season and undrafted rookie Jerry Jacobs proved to be a find. But Jacobs’ status for a chunk of next season is a question after a torn ACL in Week 14, and in today’s NFL there is no such thing as enough capable corners.
Jones is a small corner (5-foot-8, 185 pounds), but he has ball skills (five interceptions and 13 passes defensed this season) and it seems he’s not shy about mixing it up in the running game (47 total tackles, one tackle for loss this year). He also adds value as a return man (two touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns this season), and played some wide receiver this season (10 receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown). In recognition of that wide-ranging contribution, he won the 2021 Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player.
The Lions need to inject talent wherever they can. Jones fits the bill for the secondary, and perhaps beyond, here.
Ezukanma finished sixth in the Big 12 in receiving yards (705) and eight in receptions (48) this season, with four touchdowns. In 2020, he finished third in the conference with 748 yards, on 46 catches with six touchdowns.
Some draft analysts see great potential, and Ezukanma (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) has declared for the 2022 draft.
Malone took advantage of a COVID year and went back to Western Kentucky for this season. He continued to be a force, posting 94 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He won Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year for the second time too (2019 was the first).
Malone is a bit lighter than NFL teams would like (listed at 240 pounds), and level of competition might be a thing. But on Day 3 of the draft, the Lions gladly take a chance on a productive edge rusher here.