2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: NC State SS Josh Jones

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Josh Jones/SS NC State – 6’1/3 220

The Good

– NFL frame with size and decent length (32 inch arms), looks the part
– Monster hitter who wants to throw his body into every blow, impact tackler who leaves his mark
– Shows ability to wrap-up in the open field when playing with proper technique
– Does well to close downhill in the alley against the run
– Above average athlete with straight-line speed
– Plays pocket well in man coverage with size/speed/length to combat throws downfield
– Experience playing deep half, in the box, and over the slot/Y
– Tested extremely well at the Combine
– Decent level of production, especially in his final season
– Leaving school as a junior and room to grow/improve

The Bad

– Can be out of control as a tackler, lead with his shoulder too often, and play too recklessly, causing him to miss and run into his teammates
– Trouble reading his keys and can be late to find the football
– Has issue in press man coverage, biting on the stem of the receiver and allows space when WR changes directions
– May be just a box safety at the next level

Bio

– Career: 229 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 7 INTs, 3 FFs
– 2016: 109 tackle, 4 TFL, 3 INT
– Suspended for one game in 2014 by team for involvement in BB gun game with teammates off campus, no police charges were filed
– 95 tackles, 5 INTs as senior in high school, also served as team’s running back

Tape Breakdown

The Steelers have shown interest in Jones and he’s drawn scouting comparisons to Mike Mitchell. Watching him play, it’s a valid comp. Jones flashes as a monster hitter with the desire to hurt everyone he comes in contact with. Sometimes that ends up being his own teammates…we’ll get to that.

But when he lines you up, look out. He’ll hit ya. But he can also wrap up and drive you into the ground. See a little of both here against this big Vanderbilt TE.

He can also cover tight ends downfield. I didn’t include a clip of him planting David Njoku along the sideline, but that’s definitely worth mentioning, because this clip of him carrying Njoku downfield and creating the incompletion was more important. Again, in that idea of using him as a hybrid player, at least in Year One, it could work.

But…he isn’t perfect. He has the tools to play in man coverage. The speed, the ability to play the pocket in man coverage, and the physicality. But he’s unrefined, remember, he’s a junior with just three years under his belt, and can be fooled by double-moves and nuances in the WR/TE stem. Off the line in OT against Clemson, Jordan Leggett – a guy he could cover at the next level – stems inside. Jones turns his hips that way and gives up outside leverage, allowing a ton of space when Leggett stems back outside on his flag route. If Deshaun Watson throws this ball, it’s a sure touchdown.

And his big hitting attitude inflicts as much pain on his teammates as he does the opposition. His angles need work and he has to play more controlled, throwing his shoulder into tackles less often and doing a better job of coming to balance.

It’s becoming clear the Steelers have interest in taking a safety high in this year’s draft though they’ve generally been more of the SS variety. Maybe that’s to find that hybrid guy, it’s hard to say for sure. Jones could be that guy and measures and profiles as the type of player they’d be interested in. A year one impact is possible but I think he’ll have his fair share of growing pains as he becomes a smarter, more refined, and controlled safety.

Projection: Early Day Two (Top 50 pick)

Games Watched: vs Notre Dame, at Clemson, vs Miami (FL), vs Vanderbilt

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Fadol BrownChris GodwinNate GerryJordan WillisStacy Coley
Zay JonesJimmie GilbertGlen AntoineTarell BashamDuke Riley
Rayshawn JenkinsChad KellyTrey HendricksonJeremy SprinkleJoe Williams
D’Onta ForemanCarlos WatkinsDamontae KazeWayne GallmanWillie Quinn
Xavier WoodsElijah HoodMalik McDowellDesmond KingSolomon Thomas
Cordrea TankersleyRaekwon McMillanJosh Harvey-ClemonsChristian McCaffreyChris Carson
Montravius AdamsAaron JonesMack HollinsDeatrich Wise JrAdoree’ Jackson
JuJu Smith-Schuster

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Andrew

    We need a better cover safety, not another hitter like Davis and Mitchell

  • WreckIess

    He’s my favorite option for the $LB role. A physical big bodied safety with coverage skills that we won’t have to spend a 1st rounder to pick up.

  • Boots

    He’s flying under the radar a little bit with the depth of the group, but I like him being able to come in and possibly be the dime safety for a year or two and then pairing with Davis!

  • budabar

    The video did give us a good look at both Kaaya and Njoku who are also high on Colbert’s list. Remembering how high Colbert and Tomlin were on Kaaya just a couple months ago I Would not be suprised to see him as a 4th round QB.

  • Steelers12

    do i see his last name is Jones, PASS. Just playing he seems to be a decent player

  • Guest12

    I said it last year, we need to go after more Canes because they translate to the NFL so well 9/10 times. Then we went and pick Arite in the 1st and I was excited as hell to see him in the black and gold. This year is a good draft for that. Njoku would be an amazing pick, Kaaya could easily fill in behind Ben right now and learn over the next 3 years, and last but not least Corn Elder in the later rounds. A good physical corner who can tackle well and plays pretty good in coverage. Those 3 right there could have nice impacts on our team

  • Kelly Walker

    Are they saying that they see Davis as a FS and not a SS? I am all for upgrading over Mitchell because he is a bum.

  • Steve Johnson

    I don’t think he makes out of the 3rd Rd.

  • PaeperCup

    Especially with the new ejection rules.

  • LucasY59

    I think Davis has some versatility and IF they drafted Jones they would probably move him over (Josh does not seem like a traditional FS at all, but he does get compared to Mitchell) the Steelers use their Safties in similar ways so guys that kind of blend the two positions togeather are usually guys the Steelers are interested in, and I think Jones could be a good one …if they could get him with the 2nd rd pick

  • LucasY59

    I do like that he should be able to play in the Dime role early on, and then they could start to transition away from Mitchell after this season

  • LucasY59

    I think he will be better in coverage than Mitchell, but agree getting a guy that does well in coverage should be important

  • LucasY59

    I like him as a fall back option if they arent able to get Melifonwu in the 1st, but I think Obi is a little more versatile and better in coverage

    I do agree Jones is good value in the 2nd (which is where I originally targeted Obi until he blew up the combine and built the 1st rd hype, his combine wasnt a surprise to me and hoping he would be there in the 2nd was something I knew probably wouldnt happen)

  • Shane Mitchell

    If Josh Jones didnt miss so many tackles, I just dont know how we could add another player that misses so many tackles to our defense, although I like his aggression.

    I really like Duke Riley, Daniel Jeremiah recently posted a video of him running down the field covering a kick on twitter, he decleats a blocker and makes the tackle, he said he never missed a tackle on special teams in 2015. Plays like a Steeler should play.

    Another possible hybrid is Paul Magloire Jr. although I havent watched any of his film, Alex?

  • Darth Blount 47

    Jones is a really interesting guy. He has that knockout ability, but he does blend that with an ability to cover as well. He has his warts, as was mentioned. But I really think his youth will serve him well on the “being able to teach a dog some tricks” type of thought. I think we DO have some interest in Safeties, but I’m honestly not sure exactly why as well. Mitchell is a Tomlin guy, so is it truly to replace Mike M.? Is it a hedge against potential Davis regression/light not fully coming on? Or is it to find a guy who can finally fulfill that Hybrid LB/S and Dime defender role?

    Jones does look to me like a much better fit at SS than FS. Playing closer to the line and being able to run and cover with a TE. I thought he did have a really good Combine. After which I wrote:

    “I was impressed by Josh Jones. He put up 20 reps on the bench press. Which was 5th most. Showcased his speed with a 4.41.. 40-yard dash, the fastest time recorded from any safety in this year’s class. Good size at 6’1, 220. Had a nice 37.5 Vert. Added an impressive 11.0″ Broad Jump. I personally thought he was one of the most pleasant surprises of the day. He looked really good in the drills and displayed fine ball skills all day. All that and he looked well built. I thought he hit a homerun.”

    I still think Obi provides a little something extra that you can’t really get from most of the other guys in the draft, specifically freaky size and athleticism. But Jones would be a pretty darn good consolation prize. Although I’d consider him an absolute steal if his original draft projection of the 4th round would somehow hold, and a likely steal to get him anywhere in the 3rd, I think with that Combine performance, he’ll likely go in the 2nd, and that is right where he should be at. If he somehow fell to our pick in the 3rd, and we hadn’t addressed the position at all, I’d do backflips to get him there. I think his mentality would fit in nicely in Pittsburgh.

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