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2017 NFL Draft: D.J. Jones taken by 49ers in 6th round

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Jones didn’t put up big numbers in college, but his raw athleticism makes him an enticing prospect.

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Mississippi v Oklahoma State Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Ole Miss defensive tackle D.J. Jones has been selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, going 198th overall.

Jones arrived at Ole Miss in 2014 from East Mississippi Community College, where’d become one of the top JUCO prospects in the country. A year later, after a solid debut season, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze raved about Jones’ improvement during spring practice: “That’s one athletic dude. He’s very, very quick-twitched. He’ll help us get better.”

Unfortunately for both D.J. and the Rebels, Jones’ on-field production often failed to live up to his hyped athletic ability. He posted just two sacks and three tackles for loss in his senior year despite starting all 12 games. At times he disappeared completely, posting two tackles or less on four separate occasions.

Despite the lack of production, NFL scouts like what they’ve seen of Jones, both on film and in person. Given his athleticism, he has major upside at the next level.

The Measurables

Height Weight 40-yard dash Bench press Vertical jump Broad jump
Height Weight 40-yard dash Bench press Vertical jump Broad jump
6'1 319 5.04 sec 25 reps 28.5 in 119 in

The Stats

Season Solo tackles Total tackles Tackles for loss Sacks
Season Solo tackles Total tackles Tackles for loss Sacks
2016 14 30 3 2
2015 23 40 5.5 4

The Ole Miss football website describes Jones as “probably the strongest player on the team.” He benches 440 lbs. and squats 650 despite being undersized for a nose tackle. Lots of guys are strong, though—what really separates Jones is the athletic ability that he possesses in addition to that strength. As his NFL.com draft profile describes, “Jones has a freaky combination of power and athleticism that isn’t seen that often.” Guys who weigh 320 pounds shouldn’t be able to throw down a basketball like this.

Of course, potential does not always equal production, and at times Jones’ struggled to translate his athleticism into big plays. He has a tremendous motor, but at times that worked against him, as he appeared gassed in the latter part of the season. According to one SEC coach, “Go back and watch his tape from early in the season and then from late in the season and you will see a different player.” He’ll have to improve his conditioning to survive the 16-game NFL season.