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NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Mississippi State DL Chris Jones

No, we're not talking about the Chris Jones that plays DT for the Patriots.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

I had Chris Jones on my short list of draft prospects for the 2016 draft as far back as his freshman year in 2014. Jones is more of a throwback to the type of lineman the Patriots heavily sought out in the early 2000s. Jones measured in at 6'5.75" 310, which is about the same size as Richard Seymour and Ty Warren. With the emphasis more on players that are explosive gap rushers that make plays in the backfield, the gap control type defensive linemen could possibly slip a bit in the draft.

Jones has the size and versatility to line up anywhere from nose tackle all the way out to a 3-4 5-technique defensive end (outside shoulder of the OT). His bulk, length, and short area burst make him tough to move on running plays. At the combine, he tested very well with a 1.73 10 split, 7.44 3-cone, and 4.62 short shuttle. The 24.5" vertical and 8'10" broad jump numbers are decent, but suggest he's more of a two-gapper than a one-gapper. Jones has all the traits to be a successful two-gapper with good lateral agility numbers backed up by the tape.

While Jones is very strong against the run, he is still developing as a pass rusher. Conditioning is another concern I have with him, although he's built like a dump truck. He should develop as a rotational option and play on the field goal block unit due to his length. Jones would likely be the 4th defensive tackle on the roster, playing about 20% of the defensive snaps behind Malcom Brown, Dominique Easley, and Akiem Hicks/Alan Branch. The Patriots have spent their top pick on interior defensive lineman in the last two years, so you would think they wouldn't try it for the third year in a row, right? It really depends on who is available and if they can get a player of equal value later.

I have Chris Jones as a 2nd rounder on my draft board, although I think it could be very possible he rises into the first round of the draft. Jones is a great player against the run and still developing as a pass rusher. He can line up anywhere between the nose and the 5-technique in any defense and clog rushing lanes. I believe he has more value to 3-4 defenses that rely more on gap control on early downs and can be rotated out in pass rushing situations. For the Patriots, the only opportunity they'd likely have to draft him is if he falls to 60.