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Ball State CB Nic Jones selected 250th overall by Kansas City Chiefs in 2023 NFL Draft

Nic Jones was a late bloomer at Ball State. After just one full season as a starter, he leveraged his success into an NFL Draft selection.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Western Illinois at Ball State Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ball State cornerback Nic Jones was always lurking.

Jones arrived to Muncie, IN in 2019 at age 17. He was a reserve nickelback, awaiting an opportunity behind a crowded Cardinals secondary. He didn't become a full-time starter until 2021, but a season-ending LCL tear abruptly ended a promising season. But Jones returned even stronger in 2022, and after just one full season as a collegiate starter, it was clear Ball State was working with NFL talent.

Jones officially crossed the bridge to the professional level Saturday when the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs selected him 250th overall in the seventh round. He became the first Ball State draft pick since Danny Pinter in 2020 and the first Cardinal defender to be chosen since Jonathan Newsome in 2014.

NCAA Football: East West Shrine Bowl Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Ball State standout attained second-team all-MAC honors in 2022 after leading after deflecting 12 passes and corralling a pair of interceptions. In the prior season, he was on a likely All-MAC pace with an interception and three pass breakups before sustaining a season-ending injury. Jones also thrived on special teams during his time in the MAC, blocking one punt and one kick, as well as handling several kickoffs while donning Ball State colors.

He was a contributing member of a 2020 MAC championship squad at Ball State, the program’s first conference title since 1996. Jones also played a significant impact in the Cardinals’ 2020 Arizona Bowl victory over a ranked San Jose State team — the only bowl win in Ball State history.

Jones had one of the most rapid ascension stories of 2023 NFL Draft selections, and earned honors as one of four MAC players invited to the Combine in Indianapolis. At the Combine, Jones registered a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, a 4.34-second shuttle time, a 34.5-inch vertical jump, and a 10-foot, 2-inch broad jump.

The cornerback also participated in the East-West Shrine Game in Las Vegas, where he picked off a pass and drew the eyeballs of many scouts in the drills leading up to the event.

For a deeper analysis of Jones as a pro prospect, you can read our prospect report here.

He joins the reigning Super Bowl champions in Kansas City as the newest member of a cornerback room featuring L’Jarius Sneed, Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams, and Nazeeh Johnson. But wielding significant nickelback experience from his Ball State days, playing nickel instead of boundary in the Chiefs’ 4-2-5 scheme may be an option early in the career for Jones.

Kent Lee Platte