Rookie defensive tackle Chris Jones made his NFL debut with the Patriots last week against the Falcons.
The 6-foot-1, 302-pounder assisted on one tackle in limited action, but with Vince Wilfork out for the rest of the season Jones could see an increase in action.
Jones, 23 was originally drafted by the Houston Texans from Bowling Green. On film, he is an over-achiever in the mold of former Patriots tackle Mike Wright. Undersized for the defensive tackle position, but he has a high motor, much like Wright. Jones is also a smart player who can read defenses. He does his homework and has a great attitude on field.
There is risk with Jones. He’s not the strongest or fastest player and he could get flattened by larger, more experience offensive lineman. In the Patriots 3-4 defense, he will play as the 5-technique (tech) position on passing downs. The traditional 5-tech lineman is a two-gap player, lining up directly over the offensive tackle. Jones will be responsible for the B and C gaps on his side of the formation. He has to be able to stack tall offensive tackles and shed blocks to make the stop in either of his gaps. On running plays, he is a 1-tech and will be shaded over the inside shoulder of one of the guards. He will rarely be expected to control two gaps on running plays.
Jones will be able to bull-rush some tougher offensive lineman one-on-one to help force rushers to change directions. He could give opponents fits especially in the third and fourth quarters because his motor does not stop.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Jones is a player that “practices hard,” he’s always in the film room and the coaches always have him ready to play.
Jones will always be around the ball, just don’t expect fireworks.
The Patriots initially claimed Jones when the Texans released him Aug. 31, but the Buccaneers also claimed him and had priority in the waiver order. Jones was inactive in the Buccaneers' season-opening loss to the Jets. He was claimed off waivers and awarded to the Patriots from Tampa Bay on Sept. 11.
In college, Jones played in 50 games, making 43 consecutive starts at Bowling Green. He was a three-time All-MAC performer with 157 career tackles, 28 sacks, six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.
Jones was named a team captain in 2011 and 2012 and started 13 games as a senior. He finished third in the nation with 12½ sacks that season. He was also named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Bryan Souza is a new contributor to Patriots Insider. He has extensive scouting knowledge of several college and pro teams throughout the country.