Why the Slide?: Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut

This series was created in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

After Jones’ strong performance at the Senior Bowl, there were some draft pundits who were projecting him to be a late first-round pick. Jones was a productive defender for Connecticut, notching 3.5 sacks in each of the past two seasons and 126 tackles over the past three seasons. While some pundits had Jones going on the opening night of the 2022 NFL Draft, he ended up sliding to Round 3.

Jones’ slide, according to NFL sources, came from concerns about his ability to the rush the passer as a pro. Jones is a heavy nose tackle, and most teams rotate those defenders to the sideline in the sub package. Considering teams play their sub – nickel defense – around 70 percent of their snaps, Jones role was not anticipated to be a lot of playing time, which left teams valuing him lower than where some in the media were projecting him.

The Baltimore Ravens ended Jones’ fall in the third round, and they are a great fit for him. Michael Pierce is Baltimore’s starting nose tackle, but after this coming season, Jones could take over as a younger and cheaper option. The Ravens are a team that also plays their nose tackles more than others and values their run-stuffing big bodies on the interior of the defensive line. Additionally, they are in a division that features rushing attacks led by talented backs like Nick Chubb, Joe Mixon and Najee Harris. Hence, Jones should have a larger role than if he went to a different team. Before too long, Jones could be a quality starter for the Ravens turn out as an excellent value as a third-round pick.

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