Defensive Lineman, Mississippi State 6ft 6, 310 lbs
|40-Yard Dash: 5.03 sec (1.69 split)||Bench Press: 26 reps|
|Vertical Jump: 29.5”||3-Cone Drill: 7.44 sec|
|Broad Jump: 8ft 10||20-Yard Shuttle: 4.62 sec|
While from a football perspective it would have been preferable to see Jones stay for his senior season in college and improve his overall game and consistency, he’s none-the-less a very talented addition to the 2016 pool. It was a bit of a surprise that he entered the draft, and that factored in part to the seeming late “rise” of his draft stock into being an invited prospect to Chicago and likely first round selection. We’ve had a high second round grade from the start though and eventually settled on a late first grade at the end of this pre-draft process. He was also a bit of a late riser on boards during recruitment out of high school. Though he received a lot of interest to change his commitment, he stuck to his decision to attend Mississippi State; there’s a lot to like about that choice to honour his word. Jones made an early impact as a freshman, flashing some of the disruptive physical abilities he unquestionably has. Despite that, partly due to some inconsistent play and due to the strong rotation that the Bulldogs had available to them, Jones’ number of starts and snaps were limited in his first two years, and arguably his performances dipped a bit in that second year compared to his first, failing to show the progress in his development as hoped. With other linemen graduating, Jones finally became a full time starter in 2015 as a junior, after which he chose to enter the draft. As a result, he will enter the pros still fairly inexperienced with just 16 starts in his 39 games played in college. There’s no doubt that Jones’ game is still very raw. While his second year was a relative disappointment, his game looked much improved all round in 2015 as he took on a more prominent role this past season, helped by the fact that he had cut down some of the weight on his long frame, leading to a step up in production with a still admittedly modest 44 tackles, 7.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks. Jones certainly comes with first round measurables in terms of size, length and power, and that he flashes first round ability as a disruptor with an explosive pass rush. Right now though, the consistency isn’t quite there. The motor can run a little hot and cold. The great plays he makes get you excited, but other times he’s ineffective. He can negotiate his way through small spaces and gaps, and knows how to use his strength and length to his advantage. When he gets his leverage and footwork correct, he can create instant pressure and force linemen straight backward into the pocket with no chance of recovering. The “when” is key there, as the consistency in body control and positioning isn’t always there. During his time in college, his athleticism and speed for such a big guy was put to use at times as a 4-3 defensive end as well as playing inside, giving some versatility to be a threat at multiple spots along the line. There’s risk in selecting Jones. He’s arguably been an under-achiever in college and the concern is that continues in the pros. He absolutely has as much upside as the biggest names in this deep and talented defensive line class though. The Bengals are the only team who have had him in for a private visit who would be realistically in position to take him in the first round. The Jaguars and Ravens did the same, but wouldn’t be at all likely to consider him where they currently sit in the top 10, and are more likely doing their due diligence should he still be there early in round two, which is a possibility. His skill set is very well suited to the Cardinals, who draft in the right sort of range for Jones at 29, making that a potential landing spot. As with many others though in this D-line group, the sheer depth makes it difficult to call who will go where and when.