3 Apr 2014 02:44 PM EST
-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: DaQuan Jones sacks Syracuse quarterback Drew Allen. (Image Source: Bill Kostroun/AP Photo)
Here are my Post-NFL Scouting Combine rankings of the defensive prospects coming out of the Big Ten conference:
7) DT DaQuan Jones, Penn State, Senior (6040, 322 pounds)
The Johnson City, New York native is one the best players that stayed in Happy Valley when things went bad and helped keep the Nittany Lions afloat over the past two seasons. A two-year starter, Jones was Penn State’s most productive defensive lineman in 2013 with 44.5 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks and one fumble recovery.
As an interior lineman, his impact on the game goes well beyond his numbers, as Jones would often command double teams and clog up the middle allowing his teammates to make plays. He has prototypical size at 6’4” and 322 pounds and his wide frame is made for battling in the trenches, where he relies mostly on power. His ability to hold off multiple blockers is just as important as making plays that show up on the stat sheet.
Once engaged, he’s flashed the ability to get off blocks. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement if he can clean up his technique. Right now, Jones is further along as a run defender than he is as a pass rusher. He can bull rush, but will rarely chase down the quarterback in space often lacking that closing speed necessary to finish sacks once he gets pressure.
After dropping 20-plus pounds prior to his senior campaign, Jones flashed more quickness this past season, which allowed him to make more plays in the offensive backfield. In addition, Jones appeared to have better stamina and in-game durability. Durability as a whole is also a strength. Other than a back injury last spring, Jones has been able to keep himself on the field.
A decent athlete for a man of his size, Jones has nimble feet in a box but doesn’t have a lot of range if asked to play in space. We saw that at the combine, where his three-cone time was fifth among the defensive tackles, but his 40-time was just 26th among the group. His 27.5” vertical jump, 8’4” broad jump and 21 bench reps in Indianapolis were all below average for the position.
In terms of intangibles Jones gets checks when it comes to work ethic, as well as leadership. He has also developed a reputation for being a student of the game. Not your playmaking three-technique type, Jones probably won’t develop into a Pro Bowler, but he has the ability to be an above average starter along a defensive line.
Penn State’s pro day is next Tuesday, April 8.
Projection: Second Round to Third Round
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.