As the NFL becomes increasingly infatuated with the passing game, defenses are prioritizing interior pressure, and the 2019 Draft class is filled with many excellent defensive tackles. While Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver headline the group, there will be good value to be found later on. Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones began the pre-draft process as a possible top-20 pick, but is now generally considered a mid-second round player. He displays excellent pass-rush ability but his weakness against the run will prevent him from going high.
On tape, Jones is a disruptive pass rusher with great athleticism who is a constant problem for opposing defenses. He displays good hand usage at times and knows how to beat offensive lineman using his superior quickness.
In this clip, Jones doesn’t get a great jump off the snap, but he is still able to keep the right guard from getting his hands on Jones and applies the pressure quickly.
Here, Jones uses a club move to instantly beat his man force the QB to get rid of the ball a bit early. If he is given a 1-on-1 situation and there is a bit of space between the offensive lineman and his teammates, Jones will probably win the rep.
Dre’Mont Jones usually struggles when double-teamed, but in this clip he is able to collapse the pocket with his bull rush. Probably the biggest reason why this play was a success is that Jones keeps his pad level low, giving him leverage on both offensive lineman.
Effort is one thing NFL teams always looks for in players, and Jones has a relentless motor. He has made plenty of tackles down the field, and this play shows off his chasedown speed. He doesn’t look like a typical DT from a physical perspective.
Dre'Mont Jones was a monster this season and totaled 52 quarterback pressures, most among draft eligible interior defenders in the B1G. pic.twitter.com/S0sISksDkQ
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 22, 2019
In addition to his 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in 2018, Jones’ 52 pressures is extremely impressive. Jones placed seventh in Pro Football Focus’s pass rush productivity, and it’s easy to see why.
The most obvious flaw in Jones’ game is his play against the run. At 6’3″ 281lbs, Jones is very light for a DT, and it shows on film. He is often manhandled in the run game, even against only one lineman. If he is double-teamed, he is completely washed out of the play.
This is a big concern. If Dre’Mont Jones is bad against the run playing in college, where the offensive line talent isn’t great, what happens when all the players he lines up across from are harder, better, faster, and stronger? Perhaps Jones can put on some weight and improve his strength, but that will only help him if he doesn’t lose his athleticism and quickness, his biggest strengths. Jones’ hand usage is also inconsistent, and he struggles to play with good pad level, which amplifies his weak anchor.
Speaking of Jones’ athleticism, he was expected to have a great Combine, putting up numbers similar to Houston phenom Ed Oliver. While Oliver split drills between Indianapolis and his pro day, here’s how the two players compare athletically:
Vertical jump: 36″
Broad jump: 120″
40-yard dash: 4.73 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.22 seconds
Three-cone: 7.15 seconds
Vertical jump: 31.5″
Broad jump: 110″
40-yard dash: 5.12 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.53 seconds
Three-cone: 7.71 seconds
It’s obvious that athletically, Jones is nowhere near Oliver. But the numbers that Jones put up are puzzling because they don’t correspond to how he plays on the field. Still, with no reported injuries slowing him down, this is the athlete that Jones is. For a player whose best trait is his quickness, Jones’ Combine performance was very bad for his stock.
Even with his great film and production, Jones looks like he could very well fall to the third round, as teams probably won’t spend a high pick on a player with a fatal flaw and who cannot be trusted to play all three downs. Jones fits best as a rotational and situational pass rusher, spelling the starter(s) on passing downs. A team like the Cincinnati Bengals would be a good fit for Jones, as he could replace Andrew Billings on third downs and rush next to Geno Atkins. The Cleveland Browns with Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson would also be a good landing spot.
The entire pre-draft process has to be disappointing for Dre’Mont Jones, but he can still be a very good NFL player if used in the correct role. The issue is that because he has to play a specific role in order to be effective and to hide his weakness, he won’t go nearly as high as his pass rushing ability would deserve.