The search for an impact 5-technique brings our focus to Ohio State defensive lineman, Dre’Mont Jones.
At nearly 6’3” and 281 pounds, Jones was an electric and productive defensive tackle for OSU, totaling 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in 14 games. He did not test well at the combine, registering average jumps to go along with uninspiring 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle measurements.
Despite this, a certain sense of functional athleticism, perhaps aided by his basketball background, was evident on tape. He frequently beat offensive guards with unmet lateral quickness, fluid combo-ing of coordinated foot and handwork, and an overall suddenness to his game. He pursued ball carriers with hustle and looked natural in the open field as a runner — again in conflict with his middling 40-yard dash.
In retrospect, the lack of true explosion and raw power that Jones’ combine results suggest is apparent: he is every bit of a finesse rusher, but such should have no issue translating to the next level. And yet he is not without complementary moves drawing on his strengths; while he rarely walked players all the way to the quarterback, he routinely employed a push-pull move after achieving early control of blocker’s pads.
Once thought of as a potential first round pick, Jones has seen his stock fall a bit. He is a day 2 parallel to the blue chip Jerry Tillery in that his college position, defensive tackle, projects him playing 5-technique in Seattle’s scheme. They differ though (for a number of reasons, really), as Tillery can be moved to a base-end role because you can, whereas Carroll might move Dre’Mont because you have to.
Undersized, technique-deficient (or rather, inconsistent) and with poor pad level, Jones could get knocked off the ball in the ground game against Big 10 competition. In his final season at OSU however, Jones displayed a penetrative mindset as well as a burgeoning anchor that revealed itself when he focused on sound technique. Despite this progress, there is still much ground to be gained in this area.
Like Tillery, Jones would easily settle into a brand of 5-tech — gap flexibile, with primary value to be found in interior pass rush — that can be readily adapted to Carroll’s fronts. It looks like this positional tweak could be exactly what Dre’Mont needs in order to become a three down NFL player.
Let’s roll the tape and see how these elements and traits coalesce into a snug fit as a Seattle “5-tech.”
Reinforcing what was stated above, Jones’ calling card is his ability to work guards and create interior pressure. At his best, he utterly deconstructs the opposition’s pass sets.
While his repertoire of moves is expansive, the go-to at OSU was his swipe-rip. Here Jones is aligned at 3-technique over the left guard:
Dre’Mont beats the lineman off the snap with his suddenness, earning him an advantage to the outside. Having gained depth on the guard, who is now late and lunging with his strike, Jones simultaneously works his hips toward the quarterback and lands a well timed swipe to clear contact cornering cleanly. The tight path he runs when flattening to the passer — even able to sustain getting tripped up in the process — is indicative of the flexibility and fluidity the combine was not able to capture.
In contrast to the speed path rushed above, Jones is quite proficient at setting up blockers with his footwork before cornering. This time from left 3-technique across the right guard:
He comes out of his stance aiming for the midline of the guard before bobbing to the inside with a heavy jab-step. This renders the lineman’s base unstable and, once Dre’Mont recognizes his opponent’s faulty footwork, he expands back to the outside with incredible lateral quickness. A heavy club to the guard’s shoulder leaves him in the dust. Simultaneous to this, Jones gets his hips turning inward so as to eliminate any wasted steps on his way to the quarterback. His ability to dip his inside shoulder to reduce his surface area also nullifies the guard’s last ditch effort to recover and run him past the quarterback.
Jones tends to play with a high pad level. While it can hurt him in the run game, this tendency helps him when rushing the passer. His ability to close distances quickly while keeping his chest fanned up baits guards’ hands out. His hand quickness allows him to get away with this as he routinely defeats strikes with his swipes and variety of knockdown moves. Getting tight and then expanding laterally is reminiscent of how Michael Bennett would corner on the inside. Hand timing is of course central to making this a feasible approach.
In addition to a foundation of speed and lateral quickness opening up his outside moves, Dre’Mont was able to bully his way to the outside, riding through contact on guards.
Against this NFL bound PSU lineman, Jones does just that:
Dre’Mont gets to the outside with his rip here, but the guard resets his hands and aiming to run his opponent off. Jones is able to sustain and eventually lift the contact with a violent rip and continue bending toward the quarterback for a hurry.
Against said guard’s left side counterpart, Jones is able to throw in a devastating speed-chop that knocks down the lineman’s strike, keeping him clean.
Potent too is his push-pull to rip, or snatch-rip move. And he relied on it often. When able to shoot hands early and achieve lockout on blockers, Jones is able to show off his play strength. From right 3-technique on the same talented guard:
Once again, after dispensing the block, Jones demonstrates his functional athleticism that gets him going toward the quarterback in a hurry.
Dre’Mont decimated whatever Oregon State and Texas Christian threw at him, but it was his tape against Penn State that will put to rest concerns that he simply beat up on plodding guards in college. Jones’ opponents occasionally got the better of him, but over the course of the game, he was able to adjust his approach and show that he can dive deep into his bag of abilities to defeat equally talented lineman.
To supplement his proficiency at cornering on guards, the awareness and suddenness to counter to the inside on over setting lineman was elemental to Dre’Mont’s overall effectiveness as an interior rusher.
Rushing the right guard here, he immediately notices his opponent sell out to the outside:
Jones counter swipes and swims over to seal the guard out of the play, before getting picked up by the running back. He is able to get into the quarterback’s field of vision nonetheless, who throws an errant pass.
He was keen to pull this out on guard’s that didn’t trust their ability to match lateral mobility, thus setting to the outside as quickly as possible.
While Jones’ speed-swipe is likely to be his money-maker in the NFL, his trademark is the counter spin:
Dre’Mont whipped this out whenever getting to the outside or rushing the center line of the opponent and felt them leaning. The second linemen lowered their crown and he knew space had been set up to the inside, the basketball background jumped out.
Leverage and Run Defense
There won’t be any accompanying visual aids to show off the real bad issues of Jones’ run defense. Just know that he can truly get obliterated. While I euphemistically called his PSU game a “battle,” and he did tally many a reps in his favor, he got moved quite a bit on hand-offs. Michigan State was probably the worst game of his collegiate career.
As alluded to earlier, there is only so much that Jones could do at 280 pounds on the interior. This, coupled with (and perhaps causal to the forthcoming) his over reliance on lateral mobility, saw him give up his chest frequently and lose any chance at establishing leverage.
When he focused shooting his hands and coming out low, however, he showed the traits necessary to achieve blocker control and hold gaps at the next level:
Jones rolls out of his hips, lands his hands, presses and holds the block at the point of attack. His suddenness and adequate length will serve as his strengths in becoming a serviceable run defender at the next level.
An extension of sound technique, he can also make plays in the run game by implementing a snatch-rip move into his run defense after achieving block-control:
But again, an over reliance on his lateral moves can see him turn himself completely out of the play when he gets off the block too early:
Jones can also get penetrative against the run crashing down the line from the backside in pursuit of the ball carrier:
And while this rep from 0-technique is part of OSU’s many pressure packages and thus a pass rush rep, it forces Jones to come out low, focusing on hand placement immediately out of his stance and leverage — and to much success:
Of course, defensive lineman are getting blocked in drastically different fashions on running and passing downs. Because of this, Dre’Mont engages these blocks differently. Nonetheless, there are fundamental elements displayed in these pressure packages — when in a rush-nose position — that are conducive to achieving leverage in run scenarios. In short, Jones can come out low and shoot hands early when he really wants to. The strength in his hands to toss aside the block here supplements his snatch-rip in the name of his ability to block-shed.
Combining the best aspects of what he did show as a run defender, and knowing that the run game is less intense the further away you are from the center, the idea of moving Jones to a base strong-side end role can help him hone and center his technique. There will be less impetus to feel that he’ll have to resort to bad habits to try to remain a factor if the offense isn’t passing.
And once again flying in the face of his combine, Dre’Mont has demonstrated the general movement ability to exist on the outside, even as a pass rusher:
After Tillery, Jones presents himself as the best interior pass rusher among the 5-technique group that Seattle is likely to narrow its search to. While other names have traits that certainly apply to the interior (Collier, Omenihu, and Gary), as it stands Jones is more easily characterized as an interior rusher. His run defense concerns and disappointing combine could see him fall as late as the early third. But in possessing the build, length, and field athleticism to play end, the very reasons he could fall could be the same reasons that he proves to be a near perfect fit in Seattle’s scheme.