Following Pitt’s win over Eastern Michigan in the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl, Pitt defensive end Patrick Jones had a decision to make. Would he return for his senior season in order to improve his draft stock or would he decide to leave early and enter the 2020 NFL Draft?
Jones certainly played well enough during his junior season to give that question serious consideration. In 13 games, he registered 43 tackles, 12 tackles for losses, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and 18 quarterback hurries, which earned him 2nd team All-ACC and was a Honorable Mention All-American candidate by Phil Steele and Pro Football Focus.
After not receiving a draft grade in the first or second round, Jones decided to bet on himself to improve his status and, despite the risk of injury, play one more season in the Pitt Panther defense.
Jones made a wise decision, because he’s now viewed by multiple NFL Draft gurus as a first-round pick. In his latest 2021 NFL Mock Draft, CBS Sports NFL Draft Insider Chris Trapasso has Jones going with the 21st pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Trapasso had a feature on Thursday talking about the intriguing edge rushers in this draft class and this was part of what he had to say:
“I like that Jones has a plan when attacking an offensive tackle. I will say though, the weakness for Jones is nitpicking. There’s not much to dislike about his game.”
To get more insight on the possible draft evaluation of Jones, Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with Trapasso and like with Rashad Weaver, he says Jones is a very likely 1st round pick in April.
“Rashad and Patrick are different despite being around the same size,” said Trapasso. “Weaver looks a little bigger on the field but I know they’re listed somewhat close to each other. For all the power in his hands that Rashad Weaver has, I don’t really see that with Patrick Jones, but his burst off the snap is a lot more impressive. Plus, I like his ability to sustain speed in his rush after that initial burst off the line. He’s kind of like a sprinter out of the box because he sustains his speed getting after the quarterback or just getting into the backfield.
“Like with Weaver, I think the Pitt coaches have done a nice job teaching him and other players how to use their hands. They’re not just running full stream ahead without any plan on how they’re going to beat the left or right tackle. I think they both use their hands very well and with Patrick Jones, you get a bit more bend and a bit more high-level athleticism.
“I think they both should go in the first round. I’m not really sure why I really haven’t heard more when it comes to Patrick Jones. I think both Jones and Weaver are first round prospects and are definitely first round players on my draft board. I just completed an evaluation of all the edge-rush prospects in the class and they received first round grades. They’re both complete players, while you get more power and more of a three down player in Rashad Weaver more athleticism with Patrick Jones.”