6’1, 228 pounds | Middle linebacker | Michigan State
Coverage: Jones is only above-average when he’s asked to cover receivers. Because he doesn’t have great deep speed, he’s better in short area zone coverage than man-to-man. Gets physical when he can against tight ends or receivers coming over the middle. Doesn’t have good hands to make the interception, but can make a play on the ball.
Instincts: As a four-year starter, Jones is incredibly instinctive. He’s a read and react linebacker who gets after the ball. Makes his read and gets after the ball on run plays. On bootlegs and designed roll outs, Jones tends to make a false step before correcting himself. Does a good bit of work pre-snap to adjust himself to the side of the ball the play is coming. Looked much better as a senior moving teammates around.
Pass rush: Gets at the quarterback more than his stats may indicate. Although he sometimes has trouble on blocks, Jones closes when he has an open lane to rush. Has a good rip move that should only get better as he gets stronger in the NFL. Was typically used on stunts at Michigan State.
Pursuit: Jones could become a real terror if he learns better pursuit angles. Although he’s gotten better as a senior, Jones has had issues in the past with blockers. Instead of engaging, he’ll often find an angle around.
Quickness: Manages to beat blockers because of his quickness. Can quickly flip his hips to change direction. Has impressive closing speed.
Run defense: Has a tendency to get pushed around in run support. Needs to do a better job disengaging from blockers. Has been wildly productive because he reads the play quickly and gets after the ball carrier. Solid against the outside and inside run. Shows enough athleticism to move sideline-to-sideline. Doesn’t have long playing speed to track down speed backs.
Strength: Although Jones has improved considerably in this area, he needs to continue getting stronger. Makes up for his lack of strength by keeping his pads low.
Tackling: Jones is a good hit-and-wrap tackler but he doesn’t have a lot of pop on his hits. Rarely gets off his feet when making a tackle. Stays low which naturally generates better power. Finishes off really nicely. Not a liability in this area at all.
Final word: Jones is the kind of player an NFL coach will love. He’s started since his true freshman season, first at the strong side before moving inside his sophomore year. Jones also plays on punt and kickoff coverage and has led the team in tackles four straight years.
As a linebacker prospect, Jones is solid. No areas of his game really are spectacular. But he’s also not a detriment in any area that can’t be made better as a professional. He’s improved physically every year he’s been at Michigan State and still has plenty of room to grow.
Jones doesn’t represent the sexiest of linebacker picks, but he’s a solid second-round choice who will make an impact early in his career.