Who six months ago would have imagined that Derrick Jones, a lightly-recruited three-star who spent his career at Ole Miss bouncing back and forth between receiver and defensive back, would come off the board in the 2017 NFL Draft before Chad Kelly? That’s exactly what happened Saturday afternoon when the New York Jets snagged Jones with the 20th pick of the sixth round.
Jones showed up in Oxford as the 133rd-rated wide receiver prospect in 2013 but struggled to find a spot on a depth chart brimming with talented pass catchers. Intrigued by his athleticism, the coaches moved Jones to defensive back... then to receiver again in 2014... then back to defense midway through his senior season.
Jones’ lack of college production (just seven career starts at corner and two interceptions) and inability to lock down a role at Ole Miss are knocks against him, but the athleticism that enabled him to bounce between positions is the reason he’s heading to the NFL. He posted a monster 41-inch vertical and 11 feet, eight inch broad jump at the Ole Miss pro day, which, combined with his 6’2 frame, made him an intriguing prospect for a Jets defense that struggled to match up with receivers on the outside last season.
Jones came off the board six spots behind defensive tackle teammate D.J. Jones, who landed with the 49ers. Tight end Evan Engram was the first Rebel drafted, going to the Giants with the 23rd overall pick.