While the fan base would prefer a 350-pound planetoid with his own gravitational pull anchoring the middle of the defensive line, the Houston Texans wanted Bowling Green State University defensive tackle Chris Jones. I don't simply say that because the Texans selected Jones in the sixth round, but I say it because the Texans wanted the 2012 Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-American as far back as February.
At least, that's what Jones said he found out at the 2013 NFL Combine from Texans defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who said he would try to get him on the Texans. Jones, to many, wasn't the best of the late-rounders but a guy wanted by the Texans. Maybe, like this pre-Draft report, they had a higher grade on him and thought that Jones, like said report, was a raw version of the 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and former Man of #MACtion himself, J.J. Watt.
Let's take a look at the Monster of the MAC and see what we can learn.
Chris Jones vs Miami of Ohio (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)
Chris Jones Highlights - 2012 (via FalconAthletics)
Jones shows great effort, a quick, but not explosive, first step, and a solid initial punch. You'll also notice that Jones moves around between the three- and five-technique. He's got good size, which helps lower his center of gravity, good power, and seems to be a disciplined player. Jones keeps his head up, and I'm not seeing a lot of missed assignments or blown gaps. Reading about him, Jones also is a team captain and displays a lot of maturity. I'm fairly certain that he'll work hard for and listen to Kollar and new assistant DL coach Jeff Zgonina.
Kollar and Zgonina--I do think Jones becomes a major focus of Zgonina's given their similar sizes--do have some work to do with Jones. The biggest would be to develop, like all day three rookies, a collection of pass rushing moves. Jones has a fantastic swim move, and will sometimes incorporate a spin, but he could work on developing his rip, shoulder punch, and bull rush. A lot of that is arm and hand use, but the bull rush would benefit from either better snap anticipation or improving his lower body strength with the strength and conditioning program. As we know from weightspeed, Jones won't overwhelm anyone at 302 pounds, so he's going to need to boost his acceleration to make up for it. If Jones could improve his quickness off the snap, I would have a much easier time seeing him play some defensive end, but that position is crowded with Jared Crick and MDC's favorite Texan, Tim Jamison, as top reserves.
Even with the room to grow, Jones comes in unlike any other defensive tackle in Houston history. He brings a wealth of experience. Jones played in 50 straight games, 60 overall, at BGSU with 44 consecutive starts. Jones had three straight years, 2010 through 2012, with 10-plus tackles for a loss and six-plus sacks, culminating in 2012's impressive 19 TFL and 12.5 sack display. The productivity is part of the reason why Jones was named as general manager Rick Smith's day three pick to watch.
In 2013, I expect Jones to easily beat out former undrafted free agents Terrell McClain and David Hunter to back up North Shore High's Earl Mitchell. I think Jones will see limited snaps at first. Should he progress as anticipated, I imagine him earning more snaps as the season goes along. Jones' progress in rookie and mini-camp should determine if the franchise will reach out to Shaun Cody to come back for a year, and his progress during the season may determine the franchise's interest in retaining Mitchell going forward.
As for the future, I'm having a hard time doubting Jones. He's a mature young man who has his head screwed on straight and isn't afraid to put in the work. I know the popular comparison is to call him defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' new version of Jay Ratliff, but Jones has to work on his explosion to get there. There are so many examples of how far working hard can get you in the NFL and Jones certainly has the potential to get there. At the very least, I can see Jones being similar to Jamison, a high-effort top reserve who can come in and compete in bursts. In either case, getting a player who can contribute on day three is not a bad scenario at all.
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Battle Red Blog on the 2013 Houston Texans Rookies: Film Room: Breaking Down First Round Pick DeAndre Hopkins | Looking At New Texans Safety D.J. Swearinger | Scouting OT Brennan Williams | Collin Klein To Get A Shot At Quarterback | A Better Look At WR Alan Bonner | Looking At TE Ryan Griffin | Scouting Trevardo Williams
From Around The Network: Shakin' The Southland (Clemson) on DeAndre Hopkins | Garnet & Black Attack (South Carolina) on D.J. Swearinger | Hustle Belt (Mid-American Conference a.k.a. #MACtion) on Chris Jones | Hustle Belt on Chris Jones, Houston Texan