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Ole Miss at the 2020 NFL Draft: Benito Jones is a quality disruptor

The cattle rancher from Waynesboro is a value pick waiting to happen.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Benito Jones - Interior Defensive Lineman

Benito Jones is a cattle-ranching country boy from Waynesboro, Miss., and was ranked a five-star recruit by ESPN out of high school. He turned down offers from Alabama and Florida State to attend Ole Miss, where he became a crucial four-year player.

After a promising freshman year in 2016, he was named to Athlon Sports’ SEC All-Freshman team and never looked back. Over the course of four years, Jones racked up 66 solo tackles and 132 total tackles with 31 tackles-for-loss and 10.5 sacks. After a career-best season as a senior, he was named to the All-SEC Second Team.

Measurables:

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 316 pounds

Hand: 9 6/8”

Arm: 32 7/8”

Wingspan: 80 7/8”

NFL Combine Results:

40 Yard Dash: 5.26 seconds

Vertical Jump: 26.5 inches

3 Cone Drill: 8.21 seconds

20 Yard Shuttle: 5.27 seconds

Positives:

Jones started all four years as a Rebel and has significant playing experience at his position. His big frame and lower body looks like that of an NFL nose tackle and provides built-in leverage for him to stay centered and get his hands under the pad level of a taller block. He gets off the ball with an incredibly quick first step for a 300-pound guy— he is able to win off the line, break down, and meet a back in the hole.

As you’ll see here, the center (No. 51) tries to impede Jones’ (No. 95) push with initial punch before he heads for the second-level, while the the guard steps down to clean the middle and catch him off balance. Jones’ low center of gravity keeps his rush unaffected by the center’s push and he is too quick to the gap for the guard to catch him.

His ability to blow opposing ball carriers up in the backfield is the strong suit, his pass rush also shows flashes of brilliance. With his size and surprising agility, Jones has shown the ability to anchor himself with a wide base, walk back the blockers and get push into the pocket. The bull rush is Jones’ go-to technique and on this play even a double team can’t stop his pure downfield strength from penetrating the line and getting to the quarterback.

While Jones typically imposes his will by simply over-powering his blocker, he has shown good use of his hands and can utilize a secondary pass rush (swim) move when the opportunity presents itself.

Here an expecting guard (No. 63) waits on Jones to come with a power rush and sits forward on his block. Jones recognizes the lunging lineman, uses quick hands to fight off the locked out arms of the guard and slips through the gap to clobber the quarterback.

On downs where he can’t get to the backfield, Jones is quick to turn and get involved with the tackle downfield. He has good play recognition and knows when to leave the line of scrimmage or breakdown in the middle. On this play, Jones is completely out of the frame but comes flying in to help the arm tackling defensive backs. He recognizes the short slant and gets to the numbers to clean up.

His testing numbers didn’t showcase his deceptive speed.

Negatives:

While Jones is of notable stature, his length and reach is not what is typically desired in a defensive line prospect. He shows potential over the center, but lacks versatility to move out of the 0 or 1 technique spots, and is unlikely to be stretched to a 2 technique more than a few times a game.

ITPylon

There are times where Jones is the low man off the snap, but drops his eyes and loses the ball or gets turned and gets controlled once his body isn’t square.

He is a true A-gap defender and isn’t likely to develop into a three-down player.

Bottom Line:

All in all, Jones is the Rebels’ best draft prospect for 2020. His one-dimensional position isn’t as highly valued in a passing league that throws the ball more than 50 percent of the time and there are questions surrounding his length, so he will fall to the mid-to-late rounds as a highly-talented prospect that could become a solid rotational piece in a defensive front. He has the necessary attributes needed to become a long-tenured rotational defensive tackle in the NFL, but needs to land in the right system that is willing to develop his raw pass rush.

Should he fix some of his weaknesses upon arrival to the league, Jones could become a major contributor in the right system sooner than later. If a franchise is looking for high-upside depth at the defensive tackle position, he offers a run-stopping force that can break to the quarterback every once in awhile.

Expect him to be drafted as high as the mid-fifth round, or as low as the late seventh round. The fifth or sixth round sounds about right for Jones, though his ceiling is beyond his floor.