STRENGTHS - Jones is an explosive athlete and when he anticipates the snap he can burst off the ball and has the speed to beat the OT around the corner. Despite lacking ideal bulk/weight, when he bull rushes aggressively he is a powerful bull rusher - His ability to rush with leverage and use his hands aggressively to jolt OT helps him play so strong. Although he almost never uses an inside pass rush move, when he wants to he can change directions fast and has an explosive burst to beat the OT back underneath. Unlike many undersized defenders, Jones does an excellent job of taking on run blocks with leverage and good hand use, which enables him to easily hold ground at the POA. He does an outstanding job of shedding TE run blocks and flashes ability to shed OT run blocks. On running plays away he consistently gets off the ball and inside backside block quickly and has the elite playing speed to chase down ball carrier in pursuit. When offenses try to pull the OL over him, he bursts into the backfield before the trapping OL can get to him and he makes the play behind the LOS. On running plays to his side of the field he does an excellent job of taking on run blocker with good technique, maintains outside force/contain, strings the play out, can shed and makes tackle.
WEAKNESSES - Despite flashing the ability to be an impact pass rusher, too often he is a non-factor rushing the QB. While he flashes rare initial quickness and the speed to get the corner, more often than not he does not burst off the ball and when he doesn't he cannot threaten as an edge rusher. He has a bad habit of stopping his feet and quitting on pass rush if his initial pass rush move is stopped. He is an upright and mechanical looking player when dropping off the ball into pass coverage. He is going to need a lot of work to become productive in pass coverage. Although he makes it look easy taking on and defeat TE run blocks, he only flashes the ability to defeat OT run blocks. Too often if an OT gets their hands on him they can tie him up and ride him out of the play, this is why he is best suited to playing OLB where he can align wider and deal more with TE blocks. His tendency to play high and bad use of hands to deal with low/cut blocks leads to him getting cut to the ground way too easily. Most concerning is that after suffering a neck injury during his freshman season at USC, he was not cleared to return to play at USC again, so it is unknown how he will fare when he takes NFL physicals.
SUMMARY - Unfortunately, Jones is one of the more disappointing players I evaluated this season because he just did not produce at a high level consistently. For a player who flashes elite explosiveness off the ball combined with the ability to make game changing plays, too often he disappeared and was a non-factor. Most effective when aligned wide in a 2-Pt Alignment, he fits best as an outside linebacker in a 34 scheme, but will need to improve playing off the ball in pass coverage to become a good all-around starter. If he is going to become a consistent pass rush then he must improve his get-off consistency and maintain leverage and aggressiveness when rushing the QB. Overall, Jones is definitely going to be drafted significantly higher than I have him rated, but I doubt he will ever become the consistent player that he flashes the ability to be. If he does not learn to pass rush with leverage and aggressiveness every snap, then he will never be consistent pressuring the QB at the NFL level because the OT's he will face at the next level are significantly better than those he faced in college. .