Needs to get stronger, tougher at defending downhill runs
Needs more pass-rushing moves
Summary: In recent years, Pittsburgh has produced some quality NFL defensive line talent, and that tradition was clearly going to be maintained thanks to Jones and Rashad Weaver terrorizing quarterbacks on a weekly basis during the 2020 season. In 2019 while Weaver was out with an injury, Jones broke out to total 8.5 sacks, 42 tackles and four forced fumbles. JOnes was even better and more consistent with his pass pressure as a senior, recording nine sacks, 44 tackles and three passes defended. He followed up his quality season with a competitive week at the Senior Bowl.
Jones has quick burst off the ball and uses his speed to get upfield on offensive tackles. When he gets free of blocks or is able to run around them, he shows a real burst to close and eats up space in a hurry. Jones does a nice job of keeping his eyes on the quarterback and has enough length and active hands to slap away blockers. In pursuit, Jones is a dangerous defender.
As a pass rusher, Jones needs to develop more moves to take on pro offensive tackles. He is too conventional with speed or bull rushes. He will need to improve his diversity with spin moves, inside rushes, and rip moves. Jones has to get stronger to get off blocks, and he also needs to show a more consistent motor.
Jones' lack of strength and inconsistent effort show up as a run defender. He has to get stronger for holding his ground and handling runs coming downhill at him. It would help him to add power so he can maintain more gap integrity as a run defender. Jones has a long, linear frame that could give him issues with holding up as a base end in a 4-3 defense.
Jones' best fit in the NFL could come as a 3-4 outside linebacker. That would provide him with a five-technique defensive end who can help occupy offensive tackles. Jones would need serious developmental time to become a three-down starting base end in a 4-3 defense. If he stays in a 4-3, Jones would be best as a backup end who is a rotational pass rusher. Jones could go as high as the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he probably won't fall lower than the fourth round.
Player Comparison: Stephen Weatherly. Jones' speed and size remind me of Weatherly. Weatherly (6-5, 260) is a solid rotational pass rusher who can put some pressure on the quarterback, but has some limitations that keep him from being a three-down starter. I could see Jones being a similar style pro.