Summary: Jones was one of the best offensive linemen in college football for the past four season. He played all over the offensive line during that time as Alabama won National Championships in three of his four years.
Jones started out his career at guard in 2009 as a redshirt freshman and Mark Ingram ran his way to a Heisman Trophy. Jones stayed at right guard and started 11 games there in 2010. He was named as a First-Team All-SEC selection for his sophomore season.
Jones had a tremendous 2011 season at left tackle; his transisition was flawless. He did a fabulous job of run blocking for Trent Richardson and was equally good in pass protection. In his two matchups against LSU, Jones did very well taking out Tigers defensive end Sam Montgomery. Jones' great year was recognized when he was awarded the Outland Trophy as the best lineman in college football.
Jones moved to center as a senior, finding his best fit on the offensive line for the NFL. He had another great season. Jones played well against Missouri. He opened up holes for Eddie Lacy to have a huge day and was excellent in pass protection. When going against talented defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, Jones had success. The senior also had a superb outings against Arkansas, Michigan and LSU.
Perhaps the two worst games of the season for Jones came against Mississippi State and Texas A&M. He had some struggles against Bulldogs heavy tackle Dewayne Cherrington and Aggies speed tackle Spencer Neely. Jones also had a few rough plays in the first half of the SEC Championship before adjusting to record a phenomenal second half. He dominated nose tackle Kwame Geathers as Alabama's run game ran wild over Georgia in the final two quarters. Jones also had success against the team's massive nose tackle John Jenkins.
Jones finished his collegiate career with an excellent performance against Notre Dame in the National Championship. He won the vast majority of his reps against the Fighting Irish's tough interior defensive linemen. Impressively Jones played against both Georgia and Notre Dame with a broken foot. That injury kept him from participating in the Senior Bowl or Combine.
Scouts told WalterFootball.com that they believe Jones will start his NFL career on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list. He, his doctors and his representatives disagree with that assessment. In an interview with WalterFootball.com, Jones stated he'll be ready to participate in his NFL team's offseason program.
Jones isn't the biggest, fastest or strongest lineman, yet he is a pure football player who just gets the job done. Jones is extremely versatile. NFL offensive line coaches will love that he could play center, guard or tackle on game days. If Jones isn't an instant starter as a rookie, he'll be a valuable backup.
While Jones doesn't possess an elite combination of power or speed, he has enough strength to move defensive linemen at the point of attack and enough quickness to hit blocks on the second level. Jones had success in pass protection stopping heavy bull rushers and speed-rushers in college. He was extremely reliable for the Crimson Tide to win his blocks in the run and pass game.
Helping Jones to make the transition to the NFL is his vast experience against elite talent. As a 4-year starter in the nation's best conference, he has had a lot of success against future first-round picks. However, Jones' best preparation for the NFL could have come going against his teammates in practice. He went against the likes of Terrence Cody, Marcel Dareus, Courtney Upshaw and Jesse Williams.
Jones is an extremely hard worker with great intangibles to be a general on the field. While many players find the film room tedious, especially the young ones, Jones enjoys studying up and playing the chess match in getting the correct blocking scheme called.
Jones is expected to most likely be a second-day pick because he doesn't possess a great physical skill set. However, with his intelligence, work ethic and proven ability to beat good defenders, Jones could prove to be a great value pick. Scouts have told WalterFootball.com that their coaching staffs love Jones and they wouldn't be surprised if their organizations make a hard push for him. It wouldn't be a surprise if Jones is a long-tenured successful starting center qho has an excellent pro career and overcomes any weaknesses via his great intangibles.
Player Comparison: Jeff Saturday. When Jones made the move to center, Saturday was the player who he studied the most to help with his transition. They are very similar as players. Neither of them is among the biggest, strongest or fastest centers, but both get the job done and are pure football players. Saturday (6-2, 295) was a great technician as a run- and pass-blocker in his long career. He also beat defenders with his intelligence and instincts. Jones was the same in college. Saturday went undrafted out of North Carolina, but Jones should go on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft. Jones' NFL career could be very similar to Saturday's.
NFL Matches: Kansas City, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Green Bay, New York Giants, New England
WalterFootball.com has heard that the Chiefs have taken a strong liking to Jones. Kansas City needs depth and competitors on the inside of its offensive line. Jones shouldn't fall lower than the Chiefs pick at the top of the fourth round, if not the third round.
The Falcons could use a young guard or center depending on where they play Peter Konz in the long term. Jones' intangibles fit the kind of players that Atlanta likes to target.
The Jaguars could use help on the inside of their offensive line. The locker room presence that Jones will bring is needed to help change the losing culture in Jacksonville.
Cincinnati needs a long-term starter at center. Jones would be a nice complement on the inside with first-round 2012 NFL Draft selection, guard Kevin Zeitler.
Green Bay needs to improve the inside of its offensive line. Saturday retired and the Packers could use help at guard or center. Jones would be a great fit as the long-term center to work with Aaron Rodgers. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Green Bay take Jones on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Patriots and Giants both have aging offensive lines that could use an injection of youth. Jones will have an appeal to both coaching staffs.