Why we should all pay more attention to DT prospect Chris Jones

Mike Renner shines a spotlight on Mississippi State's Chris Jones and his underrated NFL potential.

| 8 months ago
(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Why we should all pay more attention to DT prospect Chris Jones


I can’t figure out why Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones isn’t getting more love during this draft season.

Maybe it’s because he was a bit inconsistent  — his lowest grade came against lowly Northwestern State. Maybe it’s because he only has a hair over 1,000 snaps played the past two seasons with seven sacks to show for it. Maybe it’s because he has a pretty simple name like “Chris Jones.”

Truthfully, I don’t know. But I do know that no interior player had a higher pass rushing grade against Power-5 competition. Only DeForest Buckner graded out higher overall against the Power-5, and it took the Oregon defensive lineman 420 more snaps to do so. Jones’ 12.1 pass rushing productivity was easily the highest in the class.

If I were to sum up Jones’ freakish potential in one play, it would be the one below from MSU’s game against Arkansas this year.

JonesArk

His initial swim move skirts any chip from the center on the slide protection and keeps his momentum to absolutely blow up the right guard. What makes Jones special is his prodigious strength. The right guard on this play simply can’t match the power coming at him and crumples. Jones +9.1 pass rushing grade against Arkansas was the highest of any interior lineman against a major conference school.

What I love about Jones is that he combines that strength with ultra long 34.5-inch arms. It leads to him tossing offensive linemen around like rag dolls and it’s beautiful to watch. Here against Ole Miss, Jones gets the first punch in and then after that the left guard was no more than a blocking sled.

JonesHit

For a big man he has some burst off the line. His 10-yard split at the combine was 1.7 seconds — a ridiculous figure for a 6-6, 310 pound lineman. And when he wants to play low, offensive linemen move backwards.

Exhibits A:

JonesLSU

And Exhibit B:

JonesMIZ

The issue is that Jones doesn’t always want to play low. The best explanation I can come up with is that he’s technically raw.

Coming out as a junior, Jones has only had three solid years of coaching after playing for a very weak high school program in Mississippi. I can forgive some of that. What I can’t forgive though, and have no explanation for, are the plays where the effort doesn’t seem to be there. They are especially worrisome when you consider he was only playing 61 percent of Mississippi State’s defensive snaps last year. That’s something that as a coach and GM you’d have to vet out in the interview process.

Can you fix him standing straight up when slant takes him away from the play?

JonesEffortGif

Or how about him giving up once the quarterback breaks the pocket?

JonesHustle

To some degree I believe a team can motivate a guy to bring effort on a more consistent basis, but it’s still a big red flag. What’s crazy, however, is even with a handful of poor plays he still graded out so dominantly. If he puts it all together, Jones’ ceiling is as high as anyone in this class, and the scary thing is he’s barely scratching the surface right now.

Where does that kind of potential fit in the NFL draft? I’m on record in the PFF offices saying I’d take him in the top five picks, but more realistically, with the risk he presents I’d say once he slips past pick No. 10 the value is too good to pass up. The pick No. 11-14 range of Chicago, New Orleans, Miami and Oakland is the sweet spot where every team could benefit from his services. Anywhere farther down than that and one very lucky team is getting the steal of the draft.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Taylor

    I have been on the Chris Jones bandwagon for months now. I am big on Vernon Butler and Jihad Ward too, but not as much. I would take any of those three over the AL DL Reed and Robinson. Way more upside, better athletes.

  • Rick

    Your kidding? Right?

  • Mike

    Same was said about Mario Edwards (lack of consistent effort). That’s probably why he got pushed into the 2nd round. I’m not saying Edwards is a superstar but, in the same vein, Chris Jones can’t be considered a slacker either. He may just need to be coached up in the big boy world of the NFL…….will be interesting to see how he does…

  • FastEddieTX

    I would rather have Andrew Billings. The guy is all heart and can break lesser offensive linemen. There is a game where the WR catches a screen and Billings runs him down. Someone that size should not move as fast as he does.

  • Mmmm

    Prudish scouts fear his dick repeatedly falling out of his uniform.

  • Guy Humana

    as I chiefs fan it’s obvious to me now that all you guys who hated on Chris Jones are idiots. kid is a stud with the potential to be a perennial pro bowl player.