Naquan Jones - IDL, Michigan State
By the numbers:
6'3", 313 pounds.
2020: 24 tackles (5.0 for loss), one pass broken up and a fumble recovery in seven games played.
Naquan Jones has good size and functional strength for his position. He was listed at 340 pounds on Michigan State's site but slimmed down to 313 for his Pro Day, which was a major point of emphasis. He offers solid length for a future nose tackle and commands double teams due to his stature. It remains to be seen what his profile will look like with the weight loss in play, but Jones displays a powerful punch and a strong upper body overall.
Jones showed flashes of athleticism on tape. He has a good initial get-off and is a fluid mover to either side of his assignment. His lateral agility is an underrated part of his game. Jones's best trait may be effort. He never gives up on plays, as evidenced by his numerous last-second stops near the line of scrimmage.
Limited production is a major concern in regard to Jones' draft profile. He didn't receive heavy reps at Michigan State and never truly "broke out" despite being lauded for his potential. He's now 23 years old and his game has yet to be refined. Jones isn't overly strong or athletic, nor does he win in a variety of ways. What his process is now — a punch or bull-rush at the point of attack — simply may be what exists for the rest of his career.
As a pass-rusher, Jones hasn't shown much. He offers very little upside in that area, as he doesn't have any variety of moves in his toolbox. The best outcome for his career will be serving as a run-stuffing 1-tech who comes off the field on third downs. There's an off chance that he pushes the pocket a bit on early downs, although his sack production will be minimal.
How Jones fits with the Chiefs:
With an interior defensive line stable of Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Tershawn Wharton and Khalen Saunders, the Chiefs' need for depth isn't pressing. With that said, Nnadi's contract expires following the end of this season. Wharton is more of a pass-rushing ace and effectively took snaps from Saunders last season. MSU's Jones makes sense as a run-stopping specialist, but he'd face an uphill battle for playing time unless Nnadi departs via free agency in 2022.
Jones is a player who was buried on the depth chart throughout his college career. When on the field, he performed well in spurts as a run defender. That may carve him out a role in the NFL, despite his low overall ceiling. Jones would be a good Day 3 option for a team looking for a player who could possibly play a gap-eating role in the future. He grades out as a seventh-round pick whose value transcends the projected undrafted free agent pool.