During an offseason that can truly feel like it’s dragging on forever and ever, the original and unique content put out by analysts and beat writers can really be a saving grace for our sanity.
In that spirit, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin decided to put out a hypothetical piece in which he treats this free agent class as another class to be drafted. So essentially, all 32 teams would go in draft order to select one of the available free agents from the pool in the same manner as the actual draft.
So with the 17th pick, the Chargers grabbed the best available defensive tackle left in the class in D.J. Jones.
At 6’0 and 305 pounds, Jones is a stout run defender with a naturally low center of gravity. He has spent the past three seasons as a starter for the Niners where he only gotten more productive as time went on. In 2019, his first as an NFL starter, he tallied four tackles for loss and two sacks. In 2020, he upped his TFLs to seven and notched a career-high three sacks. Then, this past season, Jones recorded another 2.5 sacks but set yet another career high in tackles for loss with 10 while forcing a pair of fumbles.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jones also earned a career-best 73.2 overall grade in 2021. With standout plays like this littering his tape, it’s easy to see why he had his best year to date. Just check out this insane swim move Jones puts on left guard Connor Williams:
Divine swim move from D.J. Jones. Over 300 pounds of mass explodes out of the gate so quickly and elusively that 52 touches only air pic.twitter.com/z73zLLnq04— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) January 17, 2022
While a first-round draft pick or a bigger would always be more exciting, a signing such as this would be right up Telesco’s alley. He’s an underrated player at a position of need that won’t come close to breaking the bank. He checks all the boxes.
In the clip below, you can see another example of how Jones’ explosive get off causes problems for opposing interiors. He slants into the center and immediately blows him backwards for a few steps which aids the outside rushers as it leaves Matthew Stafford nowhere to step up in the pocket. This is also a pretty clean example of how the interior rush and edge rush should work synergistically to trap opposing quarterbacks in the pocket. This is an area the Chargers need to improve in and Jones looks like just the guy to get them there.
This might've been the play of the game. 3rd-and-1 before half, Rams up 17-0.— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) January 12, 2022
Nick Bosa beats Andrew Whitworth with ease. Arik Armstead and D.J. Jones bully the interior and it ends up as a huge sack to force the punt. 97 and 91 >>> pic.twitter.com/9Ae3qNWNZx
Let me know what you all think of Jones in the comments below and whether or not you’d be content with signing him once free agency kicks off later this month.