Steelers 2014 NFL Draft Player Profiles – Penn State DT DaQuan Jones
Good friend Dave-Te’ Thomas of Scouting Services has finished his player profiles of several of the top 2014 NFL Draft prospects and over the course of the next few weeks I will be posting the ones that the Pittsburgh Steelers will more than likely have interest in. There’s a pretty good chance that Penn State defensive tackle DaQuan Jones stopped by the Steelers facility for a pre draft visit being as he is considered a local player, so today it’s time to post his profile that was prepared by Thomas, who has done these for the NFL for several years now.
DaQUAN S. JONES
Penn State University Nittany Lions
Johnson City, New York
Johnson City Senior High School
Throughout all the recent turmoil at the university, the Nittany Lions players new they had a father figure they could go to, one that would not only hand out advice on life, but also one with a long, long history for developing National Football League talent – Larry Johnson, Sr. It comes as no surprise the way former Penn State players give credit for their success in the pro ranks to their former coach.
Since Johnson arrived at Penn State in 1996, he helped develop seven first-team All-Americans in the prior to the 2013 season, including defensive tackles Devon Still (2011) and Jared Odrick (2009) and defensive end Aaron Maybin (2008). He coached players that won six Big Ten Conference Defensive Player-of-the-Year or Defensive Lineman-of-the-Year honors and six players that would eventually be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Johnson left Penn State after the 2013 campaign, taking his fatherly skills to Ohio State, but his “pipeline” to the NFL is expected to continue in a “big way” this draft – big as in 322-pound defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, a player who entered the Penn State program after being rated the second-best offensive lineman in the nation during his playing days at Johnson City High School.
Based on his breakout senior season that saw Jones receive All-Big Ten Conference first-team honors and be a serious candidate for the Outland Trophy, many expect the strong-side defensive tackle to become the latest Larry Johnson-tutored lineman to reach the NFL. Courtney Brown, Michael Haynes, Jimmy Kennedy, Tamba Hali, Aaron Maybin and Jared Odrick all were first-team All-Americans and first-round draft picks since 2000, all developed under the watchful eyes of Johnson.
You can also add in Anthony Adams and Devon Still, who were second-round selections, Jordan Hill a third-round choice, and Jack Crawford, a fifth-rounder, as those who excelled under Johnson. Now, Penn State’s loss is Ohio State’s gain. “I love Coach Johnson,” Jones said at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. “He’s definitely made me a better player.”
Jones, who was brought along slowly after switching to the defensive line upon his arrival at State College, has spent his first two seasons seeing limited playing time behind Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Devon Still. When Still left for the NFL after the 2011 season, Johnson inserted his neophyte defensive tackle into the lineup.
Jones started the first eleven games on the 2012 schedule and was instrumental in leading a defense that ranked second in the Big Ten Conference and 16th nationally in scoring defense, yielding just 19.1 points per game. While Jones did not record record-breaking numbers, he did produce 22 tackles, with fourteen coming on third down snaps, during his junior campaign.
Coach Johnson sat down with his “pupil” after the 2012 season, explaining that he had big plans for Jones in 2013. The two became like Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Kesuke Miyagi (Pat Morita) from “The Karate Kid.” It was more than “wax on, wax off,” it was preparing to realize Jones’ life-long dream of playing in the NFL.
The move to strong-side saw Jones become a force vs. multiple blockers, as the long hours watching film helped him develop the explosive burst he needed to split double teams and shoot the gaps. The once inactive hands were now viable weapons that he would use to counter any moves the offensive lineman would try. The strength coming from his 322-pound frame would leave most ball carriers nursing wounds after being tackled by Jones.
The senior finished the 2013 campaign fifth on the team with a career-high 56 tackles (33 solos). He tied for third on the team in sacks, getting to opposing quarterbacks four times (two solos/two assists). He also led the Nittany Lions in tackles-for-loss, bringing down ball carriers in the backfield thirteen times (ten solos/three assists).
The former offensive line recruit would conclude his college career playing vs. the best offensive linemen college had to offer when he spent a week in Mobile, Alabama, preparing to play in the prestigious 2014 Senior Bowl. Coming off an impressive showing in front of virtually every decision maker in the league, Jones was reflecting on all that happened to him since he first came under Johnson’s guidance, as he stood before teams once again at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
“It’s been pretty cool,” Jones said. “I’m really enjoying this. Something like this comes around once in a lifetime. You have to take advantage of it and excel in the opportunity. Being able to perform for the scouts and GMs pleases me. I’m just enjoying it.”
This past season, Jones was the fourth defensive tackle to be selected Penn State’s outstanding senior player since the award’s inception in 1978. He joined Lou Benfatti (1993), Brandon Noble (1996) and Still (2011), who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jones believes he can flourish in multiple defensive systems in the NFL. “I’d do anything, really,” he said, when asked if he could play nose tackle. “It doesn’t matter what position I play. I played very position at Penn State pretty much and I’m comfortable with it. I have no issues. Again, at Penn State, we did that — we played a 4-3 and 3-4. So it wouldn’t be a problem.”
Jones, who started 23 games the past two years, said he worked extra with Johnson on his hand placement and quickness last season. “I spent a lot of time with Coach Johnson and really tried to work on it when I could,” he said. “My stats got better and it paid off and helped me out.”
Jones trained with former Penn State teammates Silas Redd (USC transfer) and Khairi Fortt (California) in Pensacola, Florida prior to coming to the combine. All three wee among more than 330 players taking part in the 2014 event. “It was pretty neat,” Jones said. “It was interesting. We call each other and hang out. It was good to catch up.”
The most Jones has ever weighed was 333 pounds, prior to his junior year at Penn State.
Now at 322, he said he hopes to shed a few more pounds before training camp opens in July. “Right now, I’m at 322 and I feel good,” he said. “I don’t feel heavy. If I stay there or go down, I will be okay.”
The former Johnson City Senior High School standout has excellent physical attributes and possesses a challenging combination of size, strength and quickness. He has shown the ability to occupy and fight through multiple offensive linemen to provide more opportunities for teammates to make plays when he’s not in the backfield himself.
Jones’ talents, desire and fierce work-ethic in the strength and conditioning program have seen him drop weight, while increasing his strength. Last August, he was among the squad members who bench pressed more than 400 pounds. The criminology major also spent a portion of his summer as an intern observing the Spring Township Police Department near State College.
Jones started 23-of-46 games at Penn State, with all of his starting assignments coming during the last two seasons…The former offensive lineman finished with 92 tackles (48 solos), adding 4.5 sacks for minus 28 yards, 15.5 stops for losses totaling 55 yards, two fumble recoveries and a pass deflection.
Jones was first-team All-Big Ten Conference by the league’s coaches and second-team All-Conference by the media and BTN.com….Was named Penn State’s Outstanding Senior Player and the recipient of the team’s Reid-Robinson Award…Also named to the Outland Trophy Watch List…Started all twelve games at strong-side defensive tackle, finishing fifth on the team with a career-high 56 tackles (33 solos)…His tackle total was the most for any interior defensive lineman in the Big Ten during the 2013 campaign…Added three sacks for minus 21 yards and led the Nittany Lions with 11.5 stops for losses of 42 yards…Also recovered one fumble…Logged a career-high nine tackles in the first two contests vs. Syracuse and Eastern Michigan, as he added three stops behind the line of scrimmage and a 9-yard sack in the season opener vs. Syracuse. His three tackles-for-loss surpassed his season total from 2012 (two in 12 games)…Recorded a 7-yard sack and delivered two stops for minus 9 yards vs. Eastern Michigan…He had entered 2012 with 1.5 sacks and four stops-for-loss, but surpassed those totals in the first two games of the 2013 season… Made five tackles vs. Central Florida and posted five tackles at Indiana, including three solo stops, with one good for a 3-yard loss…Tied his career-high for the third time vs. Michigan with nine tackles (five solos) and added two stops for minus 6 yards and his second career fumble recovery in the four OT win….Had a stop for a 4-yard loss vs. Illinois and was in on five tackles (four solos) and a stop for a 2-yard loss at Minnesota….Made three tackles, including a sack for minus-five yards in the win over Purdue, as he helped hold the Boilermakers to 41 rushing yards on 20 carries….Registered seven tackles, including a tackle on first-&-goal on a fourth quarter goal line stand, in his final home game vs. Nebraska…Named Most Valuable Player by his teammates after the season.
Jones secured a starting role during training camp and started the first eleven games at weak-side defensive tackle…Played an instrumental role for a defense that ranked second in the Big Ten Conference and 16th nationally in scoring defense at 19.1 points per game, as the Nittany Lions held six teams to 17 or fewer points…Recorded 22 tackles (8 solos), with an assisted sack and two stops for losses of six yards…Recovered one fumble and deflected a pass…In his first career start, Jones made four tackles vs. Ohio University and posted 1.5 stops-for-loss among his four tackles in the 34-7 win over Navy…Had one-half sack among his two hits in the 35-7 victory at Illinois….Added a tackle and a pass breakup in the 39-28 comeback win over Northwestern…Recovered a fumble inside the Iowa red zone that led to a touchdown and a 24-0 second-quarter lead en route to a 38-14 decision over the Hawkeyes…Posted two hits at Nebraska, made one tackle in the win over Indiana and had three stops in the 24-21 Senior Day overtime victory vs. Wisconsin.
Jones was a top reserve at defensive tackle and played in every game, recording eight tackles (four solos), including two hits each in the wins over Indiana State and Eastern Michigan…Saw action on 247 snaps, including a high of 30 vs. Houston and 29 at Wisconsin in the battle for the Leaders Division title.
The coaching staff held Jones out of the initial four games for a possible redshirt season, but his play in practice and potential got him on the field…Made his debut in the Big Ten-opener at Iowa and played in the final nine games…Played left defensive tackle most of the season, but was forced to play defensive end vs. Illinois in his second game, when injuries knocked three ends from the field…One of seven true freshmen to play, Jones made six tackles, with two for losses of 7 yards, including a 4-yard sack…Had a season-high three hits at Ohio State, including a tackle for minus-three yards…Made two solo stops vs. Florida in the 2011 Outback Bowl, including a sack for minus-four yards…Saw action on 168 snaps, topped by 58 vs. Illinois.
No major injuries reported.
5.35 in the 40-yard dash…1.85 10-yard dash…3.07 20-yard dash…4.78 20-yard shuttle…
7.73 three-cone drill…27 ½-inch vertical jump…8’-5” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times…33 ½-inch arm length…9 5/8-inch hands…78 5/8-inch wingspan.
Jones attended Johnson City (N.Y.) Senior High School, playing football for head coach Fred Deinhardt…Rated as the second-best offensive lineman by Rivals.com, Jones was a standout on both sides of the ball…Earned four-star prospect status from Scout.com…
Recorded 60 tackles as a senior and totaled 70 tackles during his junior season, as he also posted three sacks and recovered four fumbles….Served as football and basketball team captain and was also a member of the track and field team.
Jones is majoring in Criminology, and spent a portion of his 2013 summer as an intern observing the Spring Township Police Department near State College.Son of Vaile Newborn and Steve Jones…Born DaQuan S. Jones on 12/17/91 in Johnson City, New York.