Though much of the pre-draft hype has gone to Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan in recent weeks, Penn State defensive tackle DaQuan Jones is right up there as one of the most intriguing 2014 NFL Draft prospects at the traditional 3-technique tackle position.
Jones is an absolute monster coming off the line of scrimmage, as he consistently pushes offensive linemen backward and gets into the backfield. He follows up very well as a run stuffer, taking advantage of his long arms and good tackling form to take away yardage.
Unfortunately for Jones’ draft stock, he hasn’t put it all together yet as a pass rusher and only had three sacks during 2013. That’s not to say that this prevents him from being taken in the first round — first-rounders last year like Sheldon Richardson and Sharrif Floyd put up similar numbers — however, Jones played through his senior year and may not receive as much slack from evaluators as Richardson and Floyd, who, declared early, did.
With that said, while Jones doesn’t create too much of a pass rush himself, he’s enough of a terror for offensive lines to guard that he has often enabled his teammates to have an easy path to the quarterback at the college level. While better competition in the NFL could negate this advantage, it’s worth at least taking a chance that his strength will continue to be a very valuable weapon.
In my most recent mock draft, I had Jones going to the Cincinnati Bengals with pick 26 of the second round. He’s a player, more than most, that has a very wide window in which he could come off the board. His run stuffing ability alone makes him good enough to be a second rounder, but there could be a team who sees him as a player who can develop into a serious pass rushing threat. In that case, maybe he could sneak into the late first round. More likely, though, Jones will be stuck behind a similar but more hyped player in Jernigan and fall to the middle of the second.
- Natural 3-technique tackle, but also is capable of playing a 1-technique nose tackle in a 4-3 defense or making the move to a 5-technique defensive end in a 3-4 scheme
- Consistently gets great penetration and gets to heel depth on the high majority of plays
- Uses his leverage well, does a good job of shifting his weight into offensive linemen and moving them backward
- Very good run stuffer who will swallow up runners in the backfield
- Exceptionally strong
- Long arms that he gets great extension with
- Despite lack of natural pass rushing skills, his brute strength requires enough attention that it enables other defenders to make plays
- Not a natural pass rusher; only had three sacks in 2013
- Needs to be more disciplined with keeping contain when defending the option in the backfield
- Perhaps more of a finished product than other options; is a 22-year-old senior
Jones had a very good senior season, finishing with 56 total tackles. He was somewhat inconsistent numbers-wise, as he finished with nine total tackles in two different games and finished with just one in three others. Also, he had only three sacks on the season. More impressively, though, Jones had 11.5 tackles for loss for 42 yards during 2013.
2014 Draft Projection: Second Round