Has enough height to defend big receivers, tight ends
Weapon to cover pass-receiving tight ends
Covers a lot of ground on the back end
Could play some deep center field
Single-high safety potential
Can play deep zone coverage
Showed some nickel man-coverage skills
Reads a quarterback's eyes
Not tight; loose hips to turn and run
Has ball skills
Soft hands to catch interceptions
Plays the ball well to avoid penalties and smack passes away
Not a gambler
Quick firing to flat or coming downhill
Can be a strong safety, eighth man in the box
Tough run defender
Size to tackle NFL running backs
Special teams coverage potential
Should be able to contribute quickly
Huge athletic upside
Dedicated in the weight room
Eye discipline needs to improve
Can be overly aggressive
Hasn't seen some route combinations
Prone to getting out of place from play action
Needs to be more of a wrap-up tackler and not just explosive hitter
Summary: Over the past three seasons, Jones was a tough ACC safety yet largely went under the radar. That is somewhat surprising as Jones made four interceptions and 63 tackles during his redshirt freshman season at N.C. State. The following year, he had one pick and 56 tackles. Jones had a big 2016 season to conclude his college football career. On the year, the junior collected 109 tackles with eight passes batted, one forced fumble and three interceptions.
Jones has the potential to be a real asset in the NFL. He has the speed, size, and enough ball skills to be a single-high deep free safety. As the deep center fielder, Jones can break on the ball well and is a threat to pick it off or slap it away.
Jones is rangy and is adept at making some plays downfield. He is a fast defender who covers a lot of ground in the deep part of the field, yet has the size to battle big wideouts and tight ends. With some development, Jones could have some man-coverage ability to defend the pass-receiving tight ends who cause mismatch problems for most teams. Right now, his off-man coverage on tight ends will need work. With some coaching, Jones could man up on them and should be an asset at neutralizing those kind of weapons.
Jones can be a tough defender against the run as he has the size to tackle and will make some bone-rattling hits. Jones clearly loves to come downhill or fire to the flat to blow up a ball-carrier. With his size and instincts, Jones could be a strong safety type who plays as the eighth man in the box to defend against ground games.
There are a few points of improvement for Jones in the NFL. His eye discipline needs work as play fakes and play action get him to bite. That leads him to taking false steps and getting out of position. Aside from those vision issues, Jones can be overly aggressive, which can work against him at times. Becoming more of a wrap-up tackler is necessary as well.
For the NFL, Jones could be flexible to play strong or free safety. He has the versatility to be an interchangeable safety who flips responsibilities pre-snap. Teams love that kind of safety. In the 2017 NFL Draft, Jones is likely to be a second-round pick, and he won't last long if he makes it to the third round.
Player Comparison: Mike Minter. Jones reminds me of a bigger version of Minter. Minter was a second-round pick who went on to have an excellent NFL career. He was a tough, physical presence who turned himself into a well-rounded defender. I think Jones could end up being similar in the NFL and also might be a second-round pick.
NFL Matches: Tampa Bay, Houston, Seattle, Buffalo, New York Jets, Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh
There are a lot of potential fits for Jones on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Bears, Chargers, Panthers, Bengals and Bills all have top-10 picks and could use a safety. Jones won't go that high, but at least three of those teams could be targeting a safety in Round 2 assuming that Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker go in the top 10. Connecticut's Obi Melifonwu could also go in the middle to late portion of the first round.
Chicago signed Quintin Demps, but could use a safety to pair with him. Jones could interest the Bears if they don't take a safety at No. 3. The Chargers need a true replacement for Eric Weddle. If they don't take a safety in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Jones would be a good fit in Round 2. Carolina needs a safety upgrade, while the Bengals really missed not having Reggie Nelson last year. Buffalo has a need at safety as Aaron Williams has an uncertain future due to a neck injury.
The Jets could use an upgrade at free safety and have shown interest in Jones. Tampa Bay needs an upgrade at safety, and Jones would make sense for the Bucs on Day 2. Cleveland needs improved safety play, and Jones would make sense for one of the Browns' second-round picks or the first selection in the third round.
After losing Quintin Demps, the Texans have a huge need at safety. Jones could be a prime target for them in the second round. The Steelers could use a safety to pair with Sean Davis, and Jones could give them a gifted young tandem. Pittsburgh has been showing interest in Jones, too.
Atlanta could use a free safety to pair with strong safety Keanu Neal.
Sources say the Seahawks love Melifonwu, so perhaps Maye could be in play for Seattle also. Earl Thomas has made some noise about retirement so the Seahawks could start thinking of the future.