Name: Nazair Jones
School: North Carolina
Position fit: 3 or 5 technique in a one-gap scheme
Stats to know: Totaled more run stops over three seasons (58) than combined pressures (43).
What he does best:
- Excellent instincts, able to identify run concepts by formation.
- Able to beat down blocks with his awareness off the snap.
- Effective reading the quarterback’s eyes while rushing the passer – had 12 batted passes in three years at UNC.
- Good work ethic, pursues screens and runs aggressively from the backside.
- Explosive first step, consistently fires off the ball.
- Strong upper body, wins first contact with a powerful initial punch.
- Stands up blockers attempting to block him in-line on a consistent basis. Uses his length well.
- Active hands rushing the passer.
- Will suit a team that runs a lot of stunts, better pass rusher when he has some momentum .
- Strong tackler, missed only two of 47 attempts in 2016.
- Rarely blocked cleanly in the run game.
- Lacks a variety of pass-rush moves, not particularly athletic leveled off in 2014 and 2015, never took the expected step forward.
- Pass-rush production.
- Aggressive penetrating style can leave him vulnerable to traps and draws.
- Doesn’t always monopolize initial advantage in reps, doesn’t anchor particularly well late in snap, losing leverage.
- Not always able to keep his balance attempting to shed.
- Regularly came off the field in the nickel.
- Rarely dominated with power moves on the interior.
- Somewhat vulnerable to cut blocks.
Player comparison: DaQuan Jones, Tennessee Titans
DaQuan Jones has developed into a useful run-stopper for the Titans despite providing little as a pass-rusher. Nazair Jones will likely have to follow a similar path with the hopes that his early-career pass-rushing potential shows up again and he develops at the next level.
Bottom line: An effective run defender, Jones will have to carve out a niche for himself on early downs. He has a great feel for the run game and he uses his length well to keep blockers off his frame, and he can do so from multiple positions along the defensive line. He’s built like an old-school 3-4 defensive end though he can line up and have success at 3-, 4-, or 5-technique. The inability to build upon his disruptive pass-rushing grades in 2014 and 2015 leave some concern about his prospects as a three-down player, but at just 22 years old, he has plenty of room to improve, and he remains a solid mid-round prospect at this stage.