Two days after this birthday, former Ole Miss defensive tackle D.J. Jones will have a chance to make an impression on NFL talent evaluators when he takes part in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday. The NFL Player’s Association uses the game as an opportunity to introduce themselves to the players and educate them about the business side of playing in the NFL, as well as the usual football showcase aspect.
Jones will be on the American team, coached by former Washington head coach Jim Zorn, taking on the National team, coached by former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz.
Jones arrived at Ole Miss in January 2015 by way of East Mississippi Community College (aka Last Chance U), where he won two NJCAA national championships. A four-star prospect and the highest-rated defensive tackle in his class, he immediately became an important cog in the Landshark defense. In his two seasons in Oxford, Jones totaled 70 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and one glorious interception.
Before the 2016 season, Pro Football Focus named Jones the 51st-best player in college football. They noted:
At six-feet tall, Jones often wins the leverage advantage at the line of scrimmage and he combines that with good athleticism for a 324-pounder. After transferring from junior college, he graded at 84.3 overall on 514 snaps in his college debut last season, good for 27th in the nation among interior defensive linemen and sixth among those returning in 2016. Jones was strong against the run at 84.0 and he provided four sacks, four QB hits, and 18 hurries on his 310 pass rushes.
That production might not jump out at you, but his strength and athleticism make him a solid late-round prospect. Jones, who can reportedly bench press more than 400 pounds and squat more than 700 pounds, was named the 14th-strongest player in college football by NFL.com after the 2015 season. He’s currently rated the No. 24 defensive tackle prospect (No. 269 overall) by CBSsports.com and the No. 15 defensive tackle by nfldraftscout.com.
Jones will get an opportunity to boost that stock at the NFL Combine in late February. First, though, he’ll show off his game on Saturday in California.
How to watch
Where: Carson, Calif.
Time: 3:15 p.m. CT
Livestream: Fox Sports Go