Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: Cardelro “CJ” Jones, CB, Clemson
How many teams were recruiting you out of high school?
I wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school. I went to college off of academics. Since then I’ve been that guy with a chip on my shoulder and wanting to prove people wrong.
Where did you choose and why?
Clemson University because of their outstanding Engineering Program. Clemson felt like home on my campus visit and it was going to be a new start for the journey ahead.
What were your goals for your senior year?
Spiritually my goals were to become closer in my relationship with God, and be more active inside the church. Academically my goal was to have a 3.0 or higher at the end of the semester. Athletically, my goal was to perfect my craft, technique, and take care of my body so that I can perform when the opportunity presented itself.
Have any scouts met with you, and if so what are they saying?
I haven’t had any 1 on 1 meetings with any NFL teams since talking with a few on pro day on March 6th 2014! However my agent talked with the Vikings, saying that they like my size, arm length, speed, and to keep working. I also have been doing CFL workouts for several teams such as Calgary, Toronto, Winnipegs, and Montreal. They all like my speed and toughness as well.
At your position, what separates you from the others?
My speed, athleticism, toughness, awareness, and my arm length. I have great ball skills and no one will ever out work me. It’s the mental maturity of knowing what to do in different situations that separates me from other CBs.
Tell us what you look for when breaking down film?
Outside of looking at the obvious routes that each team ran, I am looking at how the receiver aligns, whether he is on or off the ball. I study the QBs vs. WRs relationship according to the down and distance. Each person has different tendencies so it’s my job to find it and exploit it. I study combination routes, blocking schemes, and releases. I also like to see how physical the WRs are and their tendencies when they are tired.
Who was the toughest player you have ever faced?
Sammy Watkins is by far the toughest player I ever faced. His toughness, strength, speed, and awareness made him hard to go up against. Practicing against him daily made my craft even better. There isn’t another WR that I felt could beat me.
If you could compare your play to one person in the NFL who would it be?
I would compare myself to Stephon Gilmore. He is a taller corner with great speed, which allows him to cover more ground. With his height it allows him to match up better against bigger receivers. Like Gilmore, I love to show up in the run game. With my length, size, and instincts, I grew to love the press and can also play in off coverages.
What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest obstacles in my life was the journey of being a walk-on. It was a blessing and a great accomplishment. There is a small fraction that separates talent when you are playing on the collegiate level. The grueling process to keep your spirits up hoping each game that your name is called for some playing time when the odds are against you not because of lack of talent but the lack of opportunity to touch the field in the actual game. It’s no secret that if someone is investing money in a player that was highly recruited, normally that’s their go to guy(s). Whether you touch the field on game days or not you had a job to do and that was returning to the practice field to prepare your team to get them ready to be the best and face any opponent and there was no room to be selfish and allow your emotions to over come what is important. Each day I not only push my teammates, but I also got better. One of my biggest strengths is perseverance and exercising my faith not to give up and that all things are possible if you just believe. I thrived on special teams and became the go to guy on each phase.
What system fits your style of play the best?
I love to press and I am physical. However, schematically I prefer a mixture of off man, press, and zone just because it helps confuse the QB and WRs. If the opponent cant figure out what I’m in, he wont know what hit him.
What is your biggest strength?
My biggest strength is perseverance and exercising my faith not to give up. I am versatile, have a great football IQ, and I give 110% on every snap. I thrive on special teams and I’m eager to get better each and everyday.
What is your biggest weakness?
My flexibility and not having enough game film were my weakness prior to the season. For pro day training, hips, speed, and flexibility were my focus points, which is why I turned so many heads during field drills. What was a weakness is now one of my strengths.
If I were a GM and gave you a second to sell yourself, what would you say?
I don’t expect to be given anything, I will earn what I receive. I am dedicated and my work ethic is relentless. My stats may not show it all but I have helped prepare some of the best rookie players there are such as Nuk Hopkins, Andre Ellington, Sammy Watkins and Martavious Bryant. I just need an opportunity to play and showcase my talent.
Growing up, who was your role model?
Growing up my role models were and still are today my parents. We didn’t always have the flashier things of life but my parents always provided for me no matter what. I was always loved and supported during whatever it was that I want to do. They taught me the meaning of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice for the things you love. They lead by example, corrected me when needed, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without having them in my corner.
Who was your favorite team and player in the NFL and why?
Growing up my favorite team was the Baltimore Ravens because I liked their game time swag, toughness, and play making ability on defense. My favorite player was Sean Taylor ever since he was playing for the Canes in 2001. Taylor was a great defender and ball hawking safety. He had a nose for being around the ball and punishing his opponent with sure tackling. His teammates nicknamed him “Meast”, “half man, half beast”. Bless his soul; I believe that if he were still alive he would have been voted into the Hall of Fame for sure.
What was the most tragic event that ever happened in your life and how did you overcome it?
One of the most tragic events that I have had to over come is the loss of my Grandfather. My grandfather was a big part of my growing up and he taught me more than anyone could imagine. He passed away when I was 10 and at this age I really didn’t understand what loosing a loved one really meant. I overcame this with a great support system, prayer, and I wrote in my journal in order to keep my emotions from being bottled up.
If you were to have dinner with three people dead or alive who would it be?
Jesus, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King
With your first paycheck what would you buy?
With my first paycheck, I will pay my tithes and offering at church, pay off my student loans, and save the rest for intermediate family. I know that nothing is guaranteed and its best to have and need, than need and not have.