This year’s draft class does not have a clear-cut top edge rusher as classes in years past have. In each of the past four years, at least one edge rusher has been taken in the first five picks of the draft. This year will likely break that trend. This class does, however, have many intriguing mid-to-late round prospects. One of which is Pittsburgh DE Patrick Jones II. Jones was originally touted as a second round pick early in the draft process. However, he has quietly slipped into later rounds with little explanation from draft scouts.
Patrick Jones steadily improved during his four years at Pitt, increasing his sack totals from .5 as a freshman to 9 as a senior. He showed that he can get to the quarterback with regularity, yet scouts still seem to underrate him.
Based on his rushing style, I can understand why some may think that Jones is raw. Pitt is not traditionally successful, does not have a premier coaching staff and is not often nationally televised. He is sometimes stiff in his rush. It is easy to classify Jones as a below average pass rusher for any combination of these reasons.
However, Jones has skills that can translate to the next level. He is best as a wide-9 technique pass rusher. This alignment allows Jones to build up speed and bull rush the offensive tackle’s outside shoulder. This rush style is similar to that of Jadeveon Clowney and Chase Young. Each has similar measurements as well. Jones is 6’5, 260 lbs., Clowney is 6’5, 267 lbs. and Young is 6’5 265 lbs. While Jones is not quite as talented as Clowney or Young yet, he has the potential to develop with proper coaching.
The reason Jones is not ranked higher on draft boards is because of his strength. On run plays he is not able to get much penetration into the backfield. He is not able to overpower offensive linemen without building up momentum. He is not as effective with line slants or twist stunts on the interior due to his lack of power. Teams with a 4-3 scheme will likely shy away from him as a result.
In a class with no true top edge rusher, it is difficult to project how each team has ranked the available rushers on their own draft boards. A player like Patrick Jones, while raw, could be ranked higher than the experts think because a team believes they can develop him. It would not surprise me to see Jones taken early in the second round. If he slides into the fourth round, the team that selects him will have one of the best steals of the draft.