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Breaking Down DE Patrick Jones II

A closer look at the Vikings 3rd round DE pick

The Vikings selected defensive end Patrick Jones II out of Pittsburgh with the 90th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. This was the pick the Vikings acquired from Baltimore after trading Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens mid-season last year.

The Vikings are looking to upgrade the right defensive end position, and between the re-acquisition of Stephen Weatherly in free agency, the selection of Patrick Jones, and Janarius Robinson later in the 4th round, the Vikings hope to create the competition to do just that.

Jones was ranked 105th on The Athletic’s consensus big board, which Arif Hasan puts together, so not an especially good- or bad - value at 90 given that, the draft capital differences between the two spots, and the imprecision involved in ranking prospects.

Traits

Jones pulled a hamstring while running the 40 during his pro day, which effected his results, although you can see from his 10-yard split (before he pulled his hamstring), that he was probably on track to run something closer to 4.6 or so, which would’ve ranked similar to his 10-yard split time. Not sure if his vertical and broad jump were before or after the hamstring pull, but the bottom line here is that Jones’ pro day results paint an incomplete, and perhaps misleading, picture of his athletic profile.

Jones’ length- both height and arm length- are a bit less than ideal for the position- about an inch short on both counts.

However, Tony Pauline, comparing his traits with his tape, summed up his athleticism this way:

At this moment, it’s important to note the distinction between explosiveness and juice. Other players like Jayson Oweh have more natural explosive ability than Jones, but Jones still has great natural burst, and he compounds that burst with relentless energy and twitch — hence, “the juice.”

Jones’ explosiveness and high motor serve as foundational traits for his pass rush arsenal, but Jones has several other valuable qualities as well. Jones has decent length, and he adequately displays the ability to convert speed to power with length-derived leverage. The Pittsburgh edge rusher also brings impressive cornering ability. Although he’s not the most bendy player, he has the ability to dip and pinch around the edge once he has a step on his blocker.

College Grades and Stats

Jones first two seasons at Pitt were as a backup before becoming a starter in 2019. As a starter in 2019 and 2020, Jones started a total of 24 games, racking up 87 tackles, including 36 run stops- 25 of which were tackles-for-loss (TFLs), 17.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 4 batted passes, 13 QB hits, and 67 hurries.

He was named a team captain in 2020, and also earned All-American and All-ACC honors, was a semi-finalist for the Bednarik and Lott awards, led the ACC and ranked 5th in the nation in total sacks.

Pro Football Focus
Pro Football Focus

After such a productive, break-out year in 2019, expectations were even higher for him in 2020, but he was unable to build on his 2019 production. His performance in the Senior Bowl drills was also underwhelming, which between that and his incomplete pro day, hurt his draft stock considerably.

Scouting Reports

Pittsburgh defensive end Patrick Jones II takes his talents to the NFL after a strong junior and senior campaign where he racked up a combined 24 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks in 22 games. Jones II is a balanced defender, capable of making an impact as a pass rusher and run defender but he doesn’t offer much in the way of scheme-versatility—he’s a 4-3 defensive end with almost no experience in a standup role, dropping in coverage, or playing on the interior. As a pass rusher, Jones II is hard-charging out of his stance and brings a good variety of moves to the table. He’s a smart run defender that competes for his gap, processes quickly, and understands how to counter blocks. The concerns with Jones II entering the next level is his lean frame, modest length, and the need to continue developing his hand technique. Jones II has the upside to start in the NFL and command a majority of the snaps in an even front defense.

First-Step Explosiveness: Jones II is a hard-charging pass rusher with fluid and rapid get-off. He coils up in his stance and is explosive with his release. His footwork is clean with no notable issues with false steps out of his stance.

Flexibility: Jones II has enough flexibility to corner the outside edge track with good ankle flexion where he can plant his foot well outside his frame and turn. He has good core strength to press tight rush angels through contact. Overall, he has sufficient flexibility but he isn’t overly bendy. He’s more flexible in his lowers and reducing his upper half can be challenging.

Hand Counters: Jones II has a good repertoire of hand counters and his best moves are a club-rip, inside swim, long-arm stab, dip-rip, bull, and spin. With that said, he has room to grow with his hand technique to be more consistent winning with first contact, deploying secondary moves, and developing more swipes to clear his pads. He does not play with consistent extension, which leads to reps being played too close to the vest, especially against the run.

Length: Jones II only appears to have modest length, and reps against the run are often played close to the vest. His long-arm stab against Delaware State in 2019 was gorgeous and a move I want to see him use more frequently. For a pass rusher that loves to use the bull rush as often as Jones II does, more length would be preferred.

Hand Power: Jones II has sufficient power in his hands and there are reps where his strikes led to control of reps. He has enough hand strength to clear his frame and disengage from blocks but it isn’t a “plus trait.” Jones II would be well-served to improve his technique so that he can win with first contact more consistently to help win earlier in reps.

Run Defending: Jones II does well to process and correctly respond on run downs. He quickly IDs blocks and understands his run fits. Jones II does a terrific job taking on pullers with a long arm technique and leverage. Despite being a leaner defensive end, Jones II is a high-effort run defender that competes to set the edge, squeeze gaps, and pursue the football.

Effort: There are no questions with Jones II’s snap-to-snap effort. He brings it on every down, competing hard in pursuit and will chase from distance. His modest frame leads to matchups where he concedes 50-plus pounds to his opponent and he never appears overwhelmed at the point of attack.

Football IQ: Jones II’s football IQ shines as a run defender, where his processing skills and understanding of run fits shine. With that said, there are times that he sells out to rush the passer and guesses incorrectly, leading to his gap not being manned on run downs. Jones II does well to get his hands in throwing lanes and has a strong feel for the game. He has good awareness of screen/draw plays and is generally where he is supposed to be.

Lateral Mobility: Jones II has sufficient lateral mobility and he flows well to the sideline and down the line of scrimmage in backside pursuit. I only charted one coverage drop in my exposures to Jones II. If a team sees him as a 3-4 outside linebacker, there aren’t reps at Pitt where he functions in that type of role, so playing in space is foreign to him.

Versatility: Jones II is a 4-3 defensive end with little appeal to play in a standup role as a 3-4 outside linebacker. While he has played on both the right and left sides, he isn’t a prospect that projects favorably to rushing interior gaps. He is a balanced defender that brings playmaking ability to the table as a pass rusher and run defender. - Joe Marino, The Draft Network

Positives: Athletic edge rusher who causes a lot of disruption behind the line of scrimmage. Plays with proper pad level, works his hands, and is forceful up the field. Explosive, bends off the edge, and displays good change-of-direction skills, flowing laterally to plays.

Displays speed up the field pursuing the action, nicely redirects to the ball handler, and has good instincts. Stays with assignments and does more than just pin his ears back and rush up the field. Athletic and agile.

Negatives: Struggles getting off blocks and gets easily out-positioned from the action by a single blocker or knocked from his angle of attack by the initial hit. Can be engulfed at the point.

Analysis: Jones is an athletic prospect who showed a lot of pass-rushing skill the past two seasons and comes with growth potential. He must physically fill out his frame, as he will be a liability against the run on Sundays, but Jones has the ability to develop into a starting defensive end in a four-man front.

It didn’t take much film to realize I was going to be a fan of Patrick Jones. As uncertain as this class is, it has a healthy supply of athletes at the edge rusher position. Of all the upper-echelon athletic talents at the position, Patrick Jones might have the most juice off the line.

At this moment, it’s important to note the distinction between explosiveness and juice. Other players like Jayson Oweh have more natural explosive ability than Jones, but Jones still has great natural burst, and he compounds that burst with relentless energy and twitch — hence, “the juice.”

Jones’ explosiveness and high motor serve as foundational traits for his pass rush arsenal, but Jones has several other valuable qualities as well. Jones has decent length, and he adequately displays the ability to convert speed to power with length-derived leverage. The Pittsburgh edge rusher also brings impressive cornering ability. Although he’s not the most bendy player, he has the ability to dip and pinch around the edge once he has a step on his blocker.

How Jones’ traits help in other phases of the game

When defending the run and working against scrambling quarterbacks, Jones’ athletic profile again comes up big. His length allows him to establish a solid anchor in run defense. Although he sometimes favors the outside too much, creating susceptibility to inside runs, he has the strength and lateral explosiveness to hold his ground, disengage, and adjust his angle when necessary.

When responding to broken pass plays, Jones is also outstanding. In fact, most of his sacks that weren’t earned by his explosiveness were earned by his persistence and hustle. Effort isn’t a problem with Jones, and he also has good pursuit speed when tracking scrambling quarterbacks to the sideline.

Where can Jones improve at the next level?

Patrick Jones has relatively few holes as an NFL Draft prospect, which is exciting. He brings a lot of potential energy to each play with his twitch, initial burst, and play pace. That said, Jones can still refine his game, most notably with his hand usage. He made strides in 2020, but he can still add more combos and recovery moves to his toolbox. Stronger, technically refined linemen like Liam Eichenberg neutralized Jones for this reason. Because Jones doesn’t have elite length, this may be tough to deal with in the NFL as well.

Additionally, Jones does have a minor tendency to anticipate the snap count, which earned him a couple of penalties in his time at Pittsburgh. There are also times when he can over-correct and be a bit late. Maintaining consistency will help Jones maximize his traits because when he times his initial explosion right, it can be a sight to behold.

Patrick Jones came into the season with a lot of hype, and his statistical production reinforced that hype. However, as more and more evaluators came to the tape, they found that a lack of consistency was a consistent qualm across the board. If Jones can fix that, he can be a good player.

Jones molds his game around borderline elite explosiveness and juice off the line, and he supplements that burst with solid play strength and urgency. On top of all that, he also brings enough functional bend and cornering ability to infiltrate around the edge.

Given his size and modest length, Jones best fits as a 4-3 defensive end at the next level. That was what he played in college, and he frequently rushed from three-point and four-point stances. Jones loves putting his hands in the dirt and exploding off the line, and in a 4-3 scheme, he’ll be able to do what he does best on every down.

Teams that best fit Patrick Jones’ skill set

Jones can provide an infusion of pass-rushing production right away for teams with his amalgamation of traits, and he also has excellent developmental potential. However, Jones’s stock has dipped a bit since the start of the offseason. Once viewed as a potential first-round pick, he’s now viewed as a borderline Day 2 prospect, after a poor Senior Bowl showing and worse-than-expected pro day numbers.

Nevertheless, in Rounds 3 through 5, Jones can provide good value for certain NFL teams. His hometown team — the Pittsburgh Steelers — may prefer to consider EDGE help in that range, as opposed to earlier on. Thus, Jones could have some appeal there. Other teams like the Colts, Bills, Lions, and Vikings also serve as potential matches.

For teams in search of a jolt of life from their pass-rushing unit, the Pittsburgh edge rusher provides that jolt, both literally and figuratively. He’ll need to keep developing his hand usage to reach his peak potential, but his physical and mental makeup coalesce to form a low-risk, high-reward investment. - Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network

College Film

2019 Games

2020 Games

Highlights

Bottom Line

Patrick Jones has been a very productive defensive end at Pitt, both as a pass rusher and run defender, who also possesses an advanced pass rushing toolkit. He’ll need to develop and refine his skillset, and include more power in his game at the NFL level, but he should be able to compete for the starting job and/or rotational reps at the right defensive end position for the Vikings this season.

Jones has also shown the athleticism and ‘juice’ as Tony Pauline outlined, that with further development he could prove to be a production edge rusher for the Vikings in the not too distant future.

Poll

What is Patrick Jones II’s ceiling in the NFL?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Perennial Pro-Bowl caliber starter
    (69 votes)
  • 33%
    Above average starter
    (313 votes)
  • 32%
    League average starter
    (302 votes)
  • 19%
    Good rotational player
    (184 votes)
  • 4%
    Average rotational player
    (44 votes)
  • 2%
    Disappointing backup
    (21 votes)
933 votes total Vote Now