Our 2014 NFL Draft Primed series will run through the start of the college football season. We will spotlight players that are flying under the national radar but could become household names in the near future.
The run of Penn State defensive tackles in the NFL Draft has seen Jared Odrick, Devon Still, and Jordan Hill in the last four drafts. Not many expected that run to continue this season – but the secret is out on DaQuan Jones.
Jones hails from Johnson City, NY – where he was a four-star offensive line recruit. Jones was a two-way star that immediately found a home on the defensive side of the ball at PSU. At 6-foot-4, 300 pounds Jones had the size and strength to play immediately at defensive tackle and injuries would force him to kick outside to end as a freshman.
Jones excelled in practice as a true freshman in 2010 – proving to be to be too good to keep off the field. He would see action in nine games with his coming out party against Ohio State, when he notched three tackles and a sack playing primarily at end.
Jones would come off the bench in 2011 as a sophomore and appear in every game that season. Jones saw action at the one-technique – not posting great numbers as a space eater next to Still and Hill.
As a junior, Jones would jump into the starting lineup for the first time in his PSU career. Jones, again, played the nose opposite Jordan Hill – posting 22 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. Not exactly eye popping numbers but one has to take the numbers with a grain of salt. Jones was asked to take up space, occasionally collapse the pocket, and draw attention from the three-technique (Hill).
The Penn State coaching staff hasn’t hid their intentions to feature Jones this season. Jones was forced to sit out the spring game with a back injury which appears to be minor. He will remain manning the one-technique but could be asked to do more in terms of rushing the passer and asked to make more plays in the opponents backfield.
Jones is going to win with strength but will shock with his first-step quickness. Jones is an above-average athlete for a near 320-pounder. He has the skills to be a factor pushing the pocket and disrupting the backfield. If Jones wants to live up to his potential in terms of being one of the top DT prospects in the draft, he’ll have to show the ability to make plays in the backfield.
DaQuan Jones is expected to not only take over a bigger role on the field this season but will be expected to be a leader in the locker room, as well. Big things are expected from Jones this season as NFL talent evaluators will have a watchful eye on the behemoth defensive tackle.