Benito Jones, former defensive tackle at Ole Miss, has signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent, the team announced just minutes after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Ole Miss fans and SEC offensive lineman have known about Jones’ enormous frame, serious strength and love of cows since he burst onto the scene as a freshman. When opponents toe the line with the 6-foot-1, 329-pound country-strong interior defensive lineman, it us understood that they have their work cut out for them. He is an NFL-ready prospect that will provide serious value as a day three selection.
Jones has known the grind since he was very little. His father installed a sense of pride and taught him the importance of hard work while tending to the family’s cattle ranch. After his father passed, Benito, his brother and his uncle took over the rather large operation.
The farm has nearly 100 head, 13 dogs and a number of horses. When Jones wasn’t getting stronger in the weight room, perfecting his craft on the field, or in the classroom, he was cutting hay and tending to the herd. It had an impact on turning him into a country-strong, blue-collar NFL prospect.
“If you don’t do something the right way, you ain’t going to like the results,” he said in a pre-draft interview with The Palm Beach Post. “That’s how I took it on the farm.”
What does he do well?
Jones played in 48 games at Ole Miss, including 36 starts. He recorded 132 total tackles throughout his four-year career and ended No. 9 in Ole Miss history with 31 career tackles for loss. He added 10.5 sacks, good for No. 11 in program history and simply creates chaos on every play. Jones received an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl after making his name as a high-level defensive tackle in the SEC.
Benito Jones at Senior Bowl practice doing what he did all 4 years at Ole Miss - putting in work.— Taylor Curet (@TaylorCuret) January 21, 2020
The Wayne County grad named 2nd team All-SEC after 5.5 sacks, 10 TFL his senior season in Oxford.@wdam @WCWEFootball @OleMissFB pic.twitter.com/mXURNw5fmA
He preformed well in drills and showed his ability to win at the line of scrimmage with a powerful get-off and significant hip flexibility that allows him to absorb contact and set a wide base. That physicality translated well to the tape and the NFL Combine.
Where does he fit in?
He is a traditional 1 or 2 technique in the NFL and doesn’t have much of an ability to stretch out beyond the interior defensive line. Thus, in a league that values pass rushers over run stoppers, Jones has been projected as a mid-round pick since early 2019. He is as valuable as they come on the inside of the line, but questions linger about his ability to get to the quarterback and his quickness upfield.
However, to debunk those concerns, he ran a 5.26 second 40-yard dash and completed the three-cone drill in 8.21 seconds at the NFL Combine. To compare, former Rebel and breakout rookie for the Seattle Seahawks DK Metcalf completed his (highly-criticized) three-cone drill in 7.38 seconds. Jones wasn’t far behind at over 300 pounds!!
The Dolphins drafted defensive tackle Raekwon Davis in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft and currently have Davon Godchaux at nose tackle. However, Jones is a value pick at defensive lineman in a 3-4 scheme that Miami ran frequently in 2019. For head coach Brian Flores and the Dolphins to get him without spending draft capital is highway robbery.
Hear from the experts:
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein —
“When the tape is on, it’s impossible not to notice Jones making things tough for SEC offensive linemen. He possesses average power at the point of attack but can really be disruptive when he’s actively attacking the gaps.”
The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs —
Benito Jones projects as a viable A-gap DT prospect for the NFL level. With desirable build, natural leverage and effective skills to eat up doubles, Jones may not have a lot of upside as a three down player but he will certainly provide value in run stuffing. Jones can push through gaps and has success to destroy steep angles and create some push in the heart of the POA himself, too — this is a potential starter, but he plays a low value position and can be had in the heart of the draft.