COLUMBUS — After Nick Bosa went down with an injury early last season against TCU and never returned to Ohio State, Dre’Mont Jones was leaned on heavily on the defensive line to lead the Rushmen the rest of the way. And whether it was his pass rushing skill, playmaking ability or just overall athleticism and desire, Jones finished his final year as a member of the Scarlet and Gray with his best season statistically and a bit of national recognition for his play.
Like his former teammates Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin, Jones returned to Ohio State for one more year because he felt like he had to improve in a handful of areas. He wanted to improve his draft stock, had the chance to play for a national-championship squad and possessed the desire to be a leader for the Buckeyes. Despite there being no national title, the Cleveland-native solidified his name in Rushmen history and set the standard for the future as well as setting himself up for some good news come April.
Yes, it’s almost here.
The Super Bowl may have been played just a week ago, but in a little over two months, the 2019 NFL Draft will kick off in Nashville with a new group of Buckeyes itching to hear their names announced to move on to the next level. Lettermen Row is passing some of that time with a look at the reasons Jones should be a first-round lock.
Dre’Mont Jones is an explosive athlete
Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson has had the benefit of coaching some very talented players in his five years with the Buckeyes, but the recent slew of players to come through the program have been turned into dominating forces. And Jones is near the top of that list in terms of overall athleticism.
A former tight end in high school, the former Rushman emerged out of Cleveland St. Ignatius High School with a few schools interested in what he could do on the offensive side of the ball. But at the end of the day Jones ultimately was meant to be a defensive lineman, and during his final season in Columbus, he surpassed his career numbers in nearly every category.
Despite finishing with nine fewer tackles than his redshirt freshman season, the 6-foot-3, 286 pound Jones closed out his Ohio State career with 13 sacks and 8.5 tackle for loss — with both of those statistics being good enough for second on the team behind Chase Young. If there was one game that summed up the total talent of Jones from this past season, it would be the Buckeyes win over TCU, where Jones racked up six total tackles, two for a loss, a sack and the play of the game: a 28-yard interception returned for a touchdown.
Dre’Mont Jones is a physical presence
Sure, Jones’ pure athletic ability puts him in a specific tier when discussing defensive line talent in the upcoming NFL Draft. But one aspect of his game that truly sets him apart from the rest of the pack is how physical he is in the trenches.
Despite some questions about the separation he creates with his hands, Jones is quick and was regularly causing havoc for offensive lines during his Ohio State career. It really was never surprising to see him in the opposing backfield last season, and when he did have the opportunity to deliver a punishing hit, Jones rarely missed.
Speed is not a problem for him — and when you match that up with Jones’ frame, that’s a scary sight to see coming at an opposing quarterback.
Dre’Mont Jones’ first step is lethal
He’s explosive, he’s physical, but what makes Dre’Mont Jones a real first-round prospect is his first step on the snap of the ball.
Size and speed are obviously key components for any defensive lineman that wants to be successful, and what Jones doesn’t have in size he makes up for with his overall power and initial jump off the line of scrimmage. Despite registering just those 8.5 tackles for loss last season, Jones was regularly in the backfield whenever he was on the field and received a majority of the double teams once Nick Bosa went down with an injury.
It probably is a little more difficult to make tackles when two guys are blocking you at the same time. But even when he’s at an immediate disadvantage, Jones is still able to make a major impact because of his first step off the line.
Dre’Mont Jones has a non-stop motor
All of these attributes are great for an NFL Draft prospect, but another question that comes up before and during the combine for everyone is their conditioning. Well, when it comes to Dre’Mont Jones, the guy possesses a constant motor that is present in all areas of his game.
Whether he was rushing through the middle of Michigan’s defensive line or just running through bag drill at practice with Larry Johnson, Jones looked to be giving 100 percent, all the time. Yes, the Rushmen had their rotation, but guys would still get tired after a few plays just due to the constant effort required to put in. With Jones, it didn’t seem to matter who the opponent or what the score was, he always seemed to have energy at any given moment.
As long as he was on the field Jones was giving it his all, and because of it, likely made more than a few key plays during his time at Ohio State.
Dre’Mont Jones can lead a defense
He may not have been a captain during his playing days in Columbus, but his playing ability, work ethic and personality all make Dre’Mont Jones a great candidate to be a leader on an NFL defense.
As we saw last season after he became the main threat on the Ohio State defensive line, Jones began to receive more players out to block him and showed how can handle a bit more pressure than usual. Additionally, the Cleveland-native was looked upon as a role model in both his unit and throughout the program to provide a guide for some of the underclassmen as to how to succeed at Ohio State — on and off the field.
Now at the next level, he would be considered the young guy of the group. But thanks to being put in situations that required leadership and relentless effort with the Buckeyes, Jones is more than ready to play and possibly lead an NFL defense.