Over the next few weeks, the Broadway staff will be taking a closer look at prospects the Titans could look to target in the 2021 NFL Draft based on positional need.
Today I am looking at another edge rusher, Patrick Jones out of Pittsburgh, who I think has the potential to be an every-down contributor in the NFL.
Patrick Jones II | DE | Pittsburgh
Games I watched: Virginia (2019), Duke (2019), Syracuse (2019), UNC (2019), Louisville (2020), Notre Dame (2020), Miami (2020)
Patrick Jones II was a two-year starter and four-year player for Pittsburgh after redshirting as a freshman. Voted captain by his teammates as a senior, Jones started 24 straight games his final two seasons and in 2019 compiled 43 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks in 13 games. He returned for an 11-game season in 2020 and improved in all categories: 44 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and nine sacks to lead the ACC (fifth in the nation). He also forced five fumbles in his career.
Jones was an early high school graduate and thus an early enrollee at Pitt. He earned his bachelor’s degree in administration of justice and plans to finish a second major in social sciences before the end of this spring. He spent five years in college so he’s on the older side, turning 23 in September.
At 6-4, 260, Jones has imposing size and strength. He’s good at playing low despite his height and is often able to win leverage and push back the line of scrimmage. When he is able to stay low, he possesses a ton of power. He’s very strong setting the edge in run defense and a good penetrator on run downs, and he uses that strength to unleash an effective bullrush, too.
One thing I appreciated about Jones’ tape is how apparent it is that he’s a smart player with outstanding awareness. He does a good job keeping his eyes in the backfield to understand where the ball is, and is adept at sniffing out screens and reverses. He also plays the read option very well with good instincts, which could be useful against players like Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray.
As a pass rusher, Jones is powerful and relentless with an arsenal of well-developed moves and an explosive get-off. However, he lacks elite change-of-direction ability. That said, he’s tremendous rushing from the inside with a viciously quick swim move, and he uses his intelligence well to read quarterback drops and retrace his arc to pick up coverage sacks, making him an excellent clean-up player.
If you want to see Patrick Jones II at his best, watch his game against Duke from 2019, in which he finished with six tackles and caused four turnovers: two interceptions off of his pressures (one returned for a touchdown) and two strip-sacks recovered by Pitt (both inside the 20).
From my study, I don’t think Jones can bend well enough to really turn the corner and finish sacks from the edge if the quarterback steps up in the pocket. You can kind of get a sense of that limitation here:
It’s not that he isn’t athletic or quick, he just doesn’t have elite change-of-direction skills. He’s no Harold Landry or Azeez Ojulari when it comes to bending the edge. He’s one of the more technically refined rushers in the class with a broad arsenal of moves, but his ceiling on the edge will always be capped by this drawback.
Jones participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile. He had a rough week of practice, struggling to win too many reps, but he showed up big in the game itself with a nice sack.
I think Jones will always be a better run defender than pass rusher, and will probably never be a consistent double-digit sack guy. In my opinion, Jones would benefit greatly from playing the edge on early downs and sliding inside on obvious passing downs, as he’s not a consistently great finisher around the edge (despite the highlight reel above). He is, however, excellent using his quickness against guards, and he possesses the necessary size to hold his own inside.
Does he fit the Titans?
I think Jones will ultimately settle in as a good, not great, player who will likely be a contributing piece to any defense but never the star of the show. His excellent size and strength make him a force in run defense with room to grow as a pass rusher, but his age indicates a limited development ceiling.
I expect Jones to find a home on Day Two of the draft. His versatility on the line to play inside and out certainly makes him a fit for the gaping EDGE hole in Tennessee. Jones might wind up in the perfect range for the Titans to try to target in Round 2 or 3, especially if Jon Robinson decides to go with a cornerback in Round 1.
Check out some of his cut-ups on YouTube to really form your own opinion on Jones:
Agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!