2021 NFL Draft scouting report for Pittsburgh edge rusher Patrick Jones II
The 2021 NFL Draft class is not exactly loaded with top-tier talent at the edge rusher position. Most consider Michigan’s Kwity Paye and Miami’s Gregory Rousseau to be the top players at the position, but there is certainly plenty of interesting talent throughout the position.
One player who I feel is flying a bit too far under the radar is Patrick Jones II of the Pitt Panthers. In this post, we are going to dig into Jones’ game and try to determine where he should go in the 2021 NFL Draft and how well he will translate to the next level.
Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh
Class: Redshirt Senior
Weight: 260 pounds
2020 stats (10 games): 35 total tackles (12.5 for loss), nine sacks and two passes defended
Career stats (39 games): 105 total tackles (32 for loss) 21.5 sacks, three passes defended, five forced fumbles
Jones was a three-star prospect out of high school who received some solid offers before eventually landing with Pitt. He chose Pitt over offers from solid Power 5 programs like Virginia Tech, Illinois, Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke and Cal. Jones was on the Pitt roster in 2016, but redshirted the season and did not play in any games.
He played sparingly as a back-up defensive end as a redshirt freshman in 2017, saw a bit more time in 2018 and took over as a full-time starter in 2019. In his first year as a starter, Jones quickly established himself as one of the best defensive ends in the ACC, taking home second-team All-ACC honors. Jones was also a well-deserving All-American honorable mention by Pro Football Focus.
Simply put, Jones was great last year and has taken his game to the next level as a senior this season.
Jones is an explosive edge defender who is quick off of the snap and gets himself upfield in an instant. He fires off of the ball quickly and will get by some offensive tackles before they even realize what happened. Jones is at his best when he fires off of the ball and attacks the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle. His combination of speed, acceleration and flexibility is too much to handle for most college offensive linemen.
However, there is more to Jones’ game than just the ability to win with speed around the edge. He shows a strong pass-rush repertoire, including a devastating inside spin move that often leaves opposing blockers in the dust. His quick feet and hands stand out at all times and allow him to wreak havoc in the backfield often. Jones also does a nice job of converting his speed to power on the edge.
Most of Jones’ splash plays will come as a pass rusher, but he is also a strong run defender who understands his assignments and identifies what the offense is trying to do well. He is also an extremely high motor player who pursues the ball extremely well and has the length/strength combination to consistently set the edge.
Overall, Jones has a lot of upside as an edge defender at the next level. He has ideal size for the position, great natural athleticism and fantastic on-field awareness. He is also an extremely competitive player who is always working hard to get to the ball. He is unlikely to find himself in the early first-round conversation in the 2021 NFL Draft but undoubtedly needs to be on the radar of teams picking late in the first round. He is a top 50 player in this class.