The Las Vegas Raiders are set to have a huge need at defensive tackle this offseason, so who better to fill it than a 320-plus pound man. Travis Jones from UConn has the size and strength to be a boulder against the run and offers some upside as a pass rusher.
DT | UConn | 6’ 4 3/8” 326 pounds | New Haven, CN
Travis Jones came to UConn as a three-star recruit and the 92nd-ranked guard in the country for the 2018 class, per 247 Sports. Upon arriving on campus, he switched to the other side of the ball and earned a starting spot as a freshman, racking up 134 tackles, 19 for loss, eight and a half sacks and 56 pressures in three college seasons. The New Haven native lined up anywhere from a zero- to a three-technique in the Huskies’ defense that primarily used even fronts.
- Solid get off and quickness with his first three steps off the ball
- Has good hand placement and leg drive with elite strength to get extension and collapse the pocket with a bull rush. He’s even shown the ability to get a push with one arm.
- Uses a hump-by move effectively against guards with his impressive upper body strength
- Displays the potential to develop a swim move as a rusher, is accurate with his initial club to knock the offensive lineman’s hands away and uses a tight arm over to get past the blocker. He just needs to get a little more flexible with his lower half to help clear the lineman and get a clean win.
- High motor as a pass rusher, doesn’t quit when single blocked
- Against the run, he’s physical at the point of attack and has the strength to get penetration and control the offensive lineman
- With his size, strength, hand placement and low pad level, he’s hard to move as a run defender and can create stalemates against double teams
- Attacks the man he’s lined up across from against doubles and use his size/mass to hold up against the second lineman
- When getting down blocked, he does a good job of redirecting his eyes and hands to the side to take on the blocker with the strength to anchor and hold ground
- Can muscle running backs to the ground no problem and make tackles with offensive linemen hanging on him
Areas of Improvement
- Is a little stiff in the hips, making it more difficult to execute finesse pass rush moves
- Can afford to get his hands involved sooner when bull rushing, he likes to run into the lineman and see if he can just overpower them, then starts getting his hands involved
- Needs to develop a counter move off the bull rush and rush with more of a plan
- Too slow and not athletic enough to be an effective looper on line games, he lacks the agility to be efficient and run a tight hoop
- Got taken out in some third and long situations in college
- Late to recognize screens, cut and reach blocks
- Lacks the agility and hip mobility to recover against reaches
NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board rank: 84th, 3rd round
Jones might only have a third-round projection right now but that likely won’t be for long. He was a standout at the Senior Bowl and has been picking up some steam lately as some people are mocking him at the end of round one. I think he’ll end up falling into the late Day 1 or early Day 2 category, which puts him in play for the Raiders.
With Patrick Graham now at the helm, Jones could serve a Leonard Williams or Dexter Lawrence type of role on Las Vegas’ defense. The Huskie could line up anywhere from a 2i- to a 4i-technique on the defensive line and can be a quality starter in year one.
What do we need to know?
How much will his lack of athleticism hold back his ability to create pressure? Jones isn’t the most athletic prospect in the world and relied heavily on his strength and size to win as a pass rusher in college. That’s going to be a lot harder to get away with in the NFL and could limit him to being a two-down player. Also, all of the mentions about him developing pass rush moves above will go for all for not if his athletic ability doesn’t improve.
Fit with the Raiders:
To put it simply, Graham likes a certain type of defensive tackle, judging from his time in New York, and Jones fits that mold pretty well. He’s a rock against the run and can collapse the pocket as a power rusher, which is what the Raiders new defensive coordinator asked his previous interior defenders to do. This seems like a perfect marriage, it’s just a matter of if the board falls the right way. Jones could end up falling in the gap between the Silver and Black’s first- and second-round picks.
Travis Jones (DLT) isn't getting a whole lot of attention because he played at Uconn, but when you're 6'4" 326 pounds, have great hand placement and the strength to do this to offensive linemen, you'll catch some scouts' eyes. https://t.co/79hkH5vyBv— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 9, 2022
He gets double so he isn't going to hit home on this pass rush, but here's an example of how dominant Travis Jones (DRT) can be with a bull rush https://t.co/Y88Ldh9Hrh— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 9, 2022
Here's a great example of how Travis Jones (NT) can win w/ pwr as a rusher:— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 9, 2022
-Slants strong and redirects eyes to the OG
-Gets to square on the OL and gets a 2-way go
-Doesn't quite win to the outside but uses his inside arm to use a hump move to beat the OG and hit the QB https://t.co/wNd1p7gXxV
Travis Jones (DRT) is impossible to move with his size and strength, and he uses that to get off blocks:— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 9, 2022
-Attacks the OG and gets to square to make it more difficult for the C to help
-Works back and shows color to the inside
-Gets rid of the OG and gets involved in the tackle https://t.co/607GFpHP4l
Travis Jones (DRT) has the potential to develop a swim move down the road:— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 9, 2022
-Tries bull rush here 1st but isn't working
-Switches to swim and has great UOH to put the OL in a compromising position
-Just needs more hip mobility/flexibility to clear the OL w/ his lower half https://t.co/LNhWCGmJl8
You know you're wrecking a game when the offense uses 3 people to block you and give 1on1s to the other 3 rushers lol pic.twitter.com/apqkduYSHd— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) February 9, 2022