Niners Live is revisiting our series of fearless predictions with, Why Defensive Tackle D.J. Jones will be a Key Cog on Defense.
Recently on Niners live we featured: the Process of Elimination Report: Draft aftermath, Purcell, Rogers and Skov. We highlighted how the addition of the 6’1 and 319 lb. defensive tackle D.J. Jones from Mississippi in the sixth round with the 198th pick in 2017 added quality depth, thus making Mike Purcell expendable which eventually lead to his release.
Important to note: Jones was projected as a late sixth round pick, ranking him the No. 20 defensive tackle and 202nd overall prospect in this year’s draft. In only two seasons at Mississippi Jones accounted for 70 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, six sacks, one fumble recovery and one interception (cbssports.com).
Why D.J. Jones will be a key cog on defense:
Jones possesses rare power and strength which was on display at his recent combine when he benched (440 lbs.) and squatted (665 lbs.) He has rare reactive athleticism and quickness, and is very rarely on the ground. Jones also shows some freaky athleticism, not only on the football field but on the basketball court as well throwing down a dunk with ease. To add to his agility, he also plays with a great low pad level and can really get under a blockers pads, therefore, giving him an advantage against taller offensive lineman.
Jones is scheme versatile:
Jones has the uncanny ability to play either the 3-technique (lined up over the outside shoulder of either guard) or “shade” (the gap between the guard and center), which general manager John Lynch recently discussed in an interview: “He’s a stout nose who also has three technique versatility, but I think [he is] really dynamic” (ESPN.com). He’s an effective pass-rusher and graded high as a run defender, as well (Pro Football Focus).
Jones vs. veteran defensive interior lineman:
For the 49ers, Jones will be expected to compete for a roster spot battling against veterans Earl Mitchell, who is expected to be the incumbent starter, and Quinton Dial at nose tackle and as a three-technique in new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh 4-3 under scheme.
I leave you with this:
The 49ers defensive front will certainly need to be vastly improved from last year when they were clearly overmatched and looked as if they didn’t belong on an NFL field, ranking dead last in total defense and allowing a franchise record 2,654 rushing yards. D.J. Jones’ presence as a key cog in the rotation should drastically improve the interior run defense and allow linebackers to flow clean to the ball carrier and to be more effective at making plays behind the line of scrimmage. It may or may not be realistic to think that Jones will be assured a starting role. However, he can surely assert himself as a Key cog in the rotation and as a future starting NFL caliber interior lineman in the making.
As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.