Defensive lineman Jones was the sixth selection of day-two in the National Football League draft, taken by the Kansas City Chiefs as the 37th overall selection. He is the first Mississippi State player to be picked in the 2016 draft and will not be the last.
Jones opted to enter this year’s draft after three varsity seasons at Mississippi State, and is the second underclassman Bulldog picked. He follows the lead of fellow Dog defensive lineman Fletcher Cox who also left a season early, after playing 2009-11 under Coach Dan Mullen. Cox was a first-round selection in the 2012 draft by Philadelphia.
The twist here is that Kansas City grabbed a big prospect with bigger potential than he had college resume. Jones played liberally as a 2013 defensive end, then was a rotation tackle in 2014. Not until the junior season did he become a full-time starter at tackle, understandable given he enrolled behind a pair of top-flight tackles who graduated after 2014.
As a junior starter Jones recorded 44 tackles, 7.5 of them for losses with 2.5 sacks. This was despite a steady diet of double-teaming by offenses. In the Belk Bowl, he made his last college game a good one with five stops in Mississippi State’s rout of North Carolina State.
For the three seasons Jones posted 102 total tackles, 18.0 of them for losses with 8.5 sacks. He started 16 of the 39 games played.
Jones joins a Chiefs defense that is already stout on the interior, but the franchise could not resist grabbing a prospect listed at 6-5, 310 pounds.
With Jones off the board, a couple of fellow underclassmen and one All-SEC senior hope to hear their names on day-two as well. It is upperclassman quarterback Dak Prescott who may get there first, after twice being named top triggerman in the SEC.
If another senior is to be taken off the 2015 team, that most likely would be cornerback Will Redmond. His situation is complicated after an October practice injury and knee surgery, but before that Redmond was rated by some services among the best cover-corner prospects of 2016.
Meanwhile junior linebacker and two-year starter Beniquez Brown is also an early-entry in the draft and regarded as a day-three take based on size and position. Wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson also declared early for the draft. He is not listed on many projections though, despite his college production. The knock on Wilson is lack of football background in high school and pure speed off the line. In his favor are hands and height.