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Moving to cornerback pays off for Byron Jones, Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 18: Byron Jones #31 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates their 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 18, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Byron Jones spent most of his first three seasons at safety. He was average, but the Cowboys still elected to pick up the fifth-year option on Jones’ contract worth $6.2 million in 2019.

In 14 games as a full-time cornerback, Jones has proved elite . . . and worth even more money.

“It seems they value corners a little more than safeties,” said Jones, chuckling when reminded corners are paid more than safeties. “But safety is an important job. I’ve been back there. I know what it’s like.”

One of the first moves Kris Richard made when he arrived as the team’s new secondary coach and defensive passing game coordinator was to move Jones to corner. Jones hadn’t played the position since starting four games there as a rookie. His other 44 games over his first three seasons were spent at safety.

“He’s just a good football player,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. “He was a two-year starter at corner and a two-year starter at safety in college. It wasn’t like you were projecting him to one or the other positions. You saw it on tape. You saw him play at a high level. You know what type of guy he is. He’s an off-the-charts person. He works as hard as they come and his athleticism, all of that allows him to do so many things.

“He’s really selfless in a lot of ways, playing the different spots we needed him to play throughout his career with us. But he’s certainly settled in at corner, and he’s playing at a very, very high level.”

Jones made the Pro Bowl for the first time despite making no interceptions. Pro Football Focus ranks Jones as the sixth-best corner in the NFL this season.

“It’s really fun to be at a position that just feels like home,” Jones, the 27th overall pick in 2015, said. “Ever since OTAs, I’ve felt comfortable at the cornerback position and what coach Richard has been coaching. His technique has kind of fit my style and my ability, so it feels good just to have a home, no question, and then to play this well, it’s one of the better feelings.

“I hope this year kind of solidifies my home at cornerback. I’m versatile, but I’m probably best at corner than any other position on the field.”