Summary: Every year, there are good prospects who can go under the radar for the draft because they largely played out of position in college football. That was the case with Jones as he played a lot of defensive tackle at UCLA.
Jones broke into the lineup in 2009 and had some production playing next to Brian Price, the PAC 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Jones made 30 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and four sacks in his debut for the Bruins. A broken right foot sidelined him for the 2010 season. He seemed a little slow to come back from the injury in 2011 as he recorded 41 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks.
Jones' best collegiate season came as a senior when he totaled 62 tackles with 5.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. He was a powerful force at the point of attack and really took his game to another level. Going against some frequent double-teams from guards and centers, Jones applied more pass-rushing pressure than the numbers indicate. Overall, he was extremely disruptive and caused a lot of havoc at the point of attack.
Jones' trademark traits entering the next NFL are his strength and physicality. He has a powerful upper body with hands that toss offensive linemen aside. Jones is very stout at the line of scrimmage and is a strong run-defender. He isn't a blazer and won't burn tackles with speed rushes, but he has some burst.
There is no doubt that Jones is very dedicated. He has put in a lot of time in the weight room and already has an impressive NFL body with football functional strength.
At the next level, Jones could be a really good pass-rusher after developing a club and rip move. His skills for gettting to the quarterback will take more time to develop than his ground defense. He should be a good NFL run-defender quickly.
One issue that some feel has hurt Jones is being a tweener between defensive tackle and defensive end. His best fit could come as a defensive end in a 3-4 defense. He has the length and strength to set the edge. If Jones is drafted into a 4-3 defense, he would be best as a base left end on running downs and moving inside to defensive tackle in passing situations. He looks like a late first-round or early second-round pick.
Player Comparison: Justin Smith. After landing with the 49ers, Smith became one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL. He is a disruptive and powerful force at the point of attack. Jones is nearly identical measurements to Smith (6-4, 285). When Jones is playing well his game resembles Smith, but it is hard to say that Jones will turn into as good a pro as Smith.
NFL Matches: New York Giants, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Detroit, Tampa Bay
There are a number of teams that could consider Jones late in the first round and early in the second round. The Giants are perhaps the earliest that Jones could come off the board. They need defensive end help and like to have ends who can move inside to rush the passer.
The 49ers need an understudy to Smith as he turns 34 next September. Jones would be a perfect complement and long-term replacement in San Francisco's 3-4 defense.
The Eagles need talent for their defensive line after switching to a 3-4 defense. Jones could factor into Philadelphia's plans at the top of the second round.
Detroit needs to bring in talent at defensive end after losing Cliff Avril. Jones' physical style of play would be a nice complement to Ndamukong Suh, and Jones could be a good replacement for Kyle Vanden Bosch.
The Bucs need defensive end help after losing Michael Bennett in free agency. Sources have revealed that Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik is hot for Jones. If he falls to the Buccaneers second-round pick, he looks likely to land with the Bucs. It wouldn't be surprising if they trade up for Jones.