In the ultimate copycat league, only certain players transcend to a stratosphere so high, they can't be reached by mere mortals. A generational talent like Lawrence Taylor came to define a revolutionary way of playing his position.
Speaking of Hall-of-Famers, Denver Broncos defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones has many similarities to the Los Angeles Rams' future first-ballot admission Aaron Donald.
Temper that with the fact that Jones is still mastering his craft in Year 4 of his NFL career, but he continues to ascend rapidly. Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero is hoping to use Jones in much the same way the Rams use Donald to such devastating effect.
By dovetailing Jones' unique ability to stuff the run and put interior pressure on opposing quarterbacks, he is a potential game wrecker. The former Ohio State Buckeye certainly has the natural burst and athletic ability to do both effectively and perhaps, most importantly, on a consistent basis.
Evero would be remiss if he failed to get the most out of the super talented 25-year-old and is fully appreciative of his prodigious talents. That being said, Evero stopped short of making any type of blasphemous comparisons to Donald, which, of course, is the type of statement to come back to haunt both men.
“I wouldn’t call it the ‘Aaron Donald’ position, but he’s a good football player.” Evero said of Jones. “He has the ability to rush the passer. We challenge him and he challenges himself to be better against the run and he’s shown that. That’s just the deal. Anyone who wants to be a good front player in the league, you have to be good versus the run and the pass. He’s done a great job of that. He’s got all of the skillsets that’s needed to be an elite player at that position.”
Facing the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football presents a distinct challenge for Evero, especially if he is to create an effective scheme to combat their run-heavy offense. Jones figures to feature prominently, if he can clear the injury list. Right now, Jones is listed as questionable with a neck injury.
Thankfully, Evero knows the Niners rather well from his time spent with the Rams.
“I think over the last five years, we’ve played them 11 times,” Evero detailed. “I’m pretty familiar with what they are doing and stuff, but they do such a good job schematically. They’re always going to be a challenge. They always have nice, new wrinkles for them, so we have to be ready.”
The ace up Evero's sleeve could be how Jones defends against the run, or the pivotal twin edge-rushing prowess of Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory. In crunch time, those factors might prove crucial, but don't discount how important the inside information former Niners-turned-Broncos K'Waun Williams and D.J Jones could be in this matchup.
“They’ve been awesome," Evero said of Williams and Jones. "Obviously, they’ve practiced against these guys for a long time, and been in the building and all of that stuff. I think not only the schematic stuff but also the mentality that’s needed to play in this type of game—the physicality, running to the ball and those types of things. They understand what it takes to stop this offense.”
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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