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Joseph Jones NFL Draft scouting report

Northwestern’s “other” linebacker is a freak athlete and solid pass defender.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Illinois Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Jones isn’t the most hyped Northwestern linebacker in this year’s draft, but he was still a big part of Northwestern’s defensive scheme in 2016. While teammate Anthony Walker Jr. is getting all of that press, Jones touts impressive measurables and plenty of experience with pass coverage in the nickel. He didn’t see the field on defense too much until his senior year, but was a huge part of Northwestern’s pass defense, often lining up in the slot. He racked up 3.5 TFLs and a couple pass defenses last season and hopes that his incredible athleticism will be enough to give him a shot in the NFL.

Measurements

Cody Cejda, director of player development at Northwestern

Strengths

Jones’ measurements are insane. The 6-foot-1, 235 pound linebacker is an absolute freak athlete. Had Jones posted these numbers at the combine, he would have had the 2nd-best 40-yard dash (just .03 seconds behind Jabrill Peppers), the 5th-best vertical jump, 7th-best broad jump, 4th-best 3-cone drill, 5th-best 20-yard shuffle and 3rd-best 60-yard shuffle. This is only among linebackers of course, but it’s still a pool of 29 elite players who were invited to the combine. He’s a top-tier athlete, there’s no doubt about that. Ridiculously, his 40 time is the just .01 seconds short of Christan McCaffrey, the same as Dalvin Cook and better than Leonard Fournette.

On the field, his other biggest strength is that he’s incredibly versatile and has plenty of pass coverage experience. He’s worth taking a look at because of how good he is in that area, one which is vital in today’s NFL.

Weaknesses

Jones biggest weakness comes simply from the fact that he didn’t see the field that much at Northwestern. He did his job more often than not, but he doesn’t exactly have too many plays that jump out at you. He’ll get the job done, but that’s about it. That lack of visibility will hurt his draft chances. Even though he does favor speed over strength, he’s not weak and that should not be too much of a problem.

Highlights

That being said, he did have a few highlights few last season. Here’s a fun little clip in which Jones gets a sack on Mitch Leidner, but also he’s honored by the broadcast before the game and you get to learn a little about how he’s the #FamilyMan afterwards.

Here’s an example of just being at the right place at the right time, as Jones falls on top of a Nebraska goal line fumble.

Here’s an example of Jones’ play in pass coverage, blowing up an Illinois receiver as he attempts to make a catch.

Joseph Jones Stats

Season Tackles Unassisted Tackles Sacks TFLs
Season Tackles Unassisted Tackles Sacks TFLs
2013 1 0 0 0
2014 5 4 0 0
2015 18 14 1 2
2016 43 24 2 3.5

Projections

Per NFLDraftScout.com, Jones is the 28th-best OLB out of 189. CBSSports has Jones as the 352nd-best prospect overall and 28th-best OLB; he is their first OLB listed who isn’t predicted to get drafted.

Outlook

Joe Jones will get absolutely get a chance in the NFL. After the performance he put together on his Pro Day, Jones was tagged by ProFootballWeekly as an NFL Draft “Late Riser” and clearly showed that he has the physical talent to play in the NFL. Due to his lack of visibility, he probably won’t get drafted, but who knows — a team may take a flyer on the athletic linebacker in the 7th round. Jones will be on an NFL roster come the summer, and then it will just be up to him to make sure he sticks to at least a practice squad when the fall rolls around.