There isn’t a team in the National Football League that wouldn’t like to add a punishing hitter to the back end of their defense. As one AFC coach told Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, NFL clubs looking for one on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft should check out North Carolina State safety Josh Jones.
“This guy would just as soon hit you as look at you on the football field,” the coach said. “Hey, it’s fun to watch his tape because he’s already got that NFL mentality to him, but he gets way out of control too. I saw that early on in the tape. You’ve got to rein him in a little bit.”
Zierlein wrote that the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Jones, who peeled off a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, is much more than a just a big hitter.
“Jones is a height-weight-speed prospect to be sure,” he said, “but he’s not just a traits-based safety. Jones has the appetite for hitting that teams will want around the box and he has the speed and ball skills to range and help against vertical threats from a deep safety spot. The big area of concern will be Jones’ ability to play with better discipline in coverage and as a tackler. He has the ability to become a good, long-time starter in the league.”
Western Kentucky defensive coordinator Clayton White, who coached Jones at North Carolina State, also praised his football IQ while speaking with Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press.
“He loves football,” White said. “He loved to learn the game of football. Not just the regular stuff, but the details of the game and he takes pride in being a smart football player. That’s something he had to improve in over his years there. It wasn’t like that when he first got there, so he just kind of took pride in becoming a high football IQ type of player.
“His style is reckless at times. Very under control at times,” White continued. “He’s very fast, physical. Ball hawk. I mean, he finds the football like no other. He’s going to play extremely hard, as long as he possibly can. He’ll never give up. He’s going to be invested, he’s going to care and he’s going to make plays.”
After a subpar season two years ago (63 tackles, one interception), Jones rebounded as a redshirt junior, piling up 109 tackles and adding three interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble. He told Birkett it was important to him to show that his struggles in 2015 were an aberration.
“Every dog’s going to have his day and I had a year,” Jones said. “I didn’t like that feeling, having a bad year. I’m my biggest critic so I did in the offseason, I told myself that’ll never happen again. And every media, every guy that would bring it up this past fall, I would tell them you will never see that again out of me.”