Each day leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, we will take a look at prospects that should be on the Carolina Panthers' radar. We will look at roughly eleven prospects per round to give a better idea of potential draftees beyond just the first round.
Here's our schedule for the next 80 days:
1st Round: Feb. 8th - Feb. 21st
2nd Round: Feb. 22nd - Mar. 6th
3rd Round: Mar. 7th - Mar. 18th
4th Round: Mar. 19th - Mar. 28th
5th Round: Mar. 29th - Apr. 7th
6th Round: Apr. 8th - Apr. 17th
7th Round: Apr. 18th - Apr. 27th
Prospect No. 64: LB Ernest Jones
College: South Carolina
Height: 6'1" Weight: 230 lbs
Draft range: 6th
Analysis: Carolina made some moves in free agency to strengthen the linebacking corps, taking one early in the draft is no longer a necessity. However, looking at adding some depth in the back end of the draft is not such a bad idea especially when it comes to a player like Ernest Jones. Jones only has two years of starting experience but has put together a strong body of work. Over those two years, Jones accounted for 183 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and two interceptions.
The heart and soul of the South Carolina defense and perhaps most underappreciated player from a media perspective, linebacker Ernest Jones has a knack for always being around the football. Ultra-productive for the Gamecocks, Jones has accounted for 183 total tackles in only 21 games over the last two seasons. Jones has outstanding eyes out of his trigger, quickly sorting and working through trash. He is a slippery player who has the ability to work through gaps effectively, leading to some backfield production. His spatial awareness is notable both as a run and pass defender, having a keen understanding of what is developing in front of him. Athletically, he is a smooth enough mover to work laterally and in the passing game. Aside from the smoothness, there is nothing physically that stands out about Jones. He has middling size that lacks a true power profile to stack and shed at the point of attack. Jones can get blown out of gaps on film, with little ability to work off of blocks in the run game. He is smooth hipped and flexible but is very ordinary linearly. His straight-line explosiveness leaves a little to be desired, lacking traits to make a ton of plays in pursuit. Jones's football IQ and feel for the game could provide him a steady role in a defense, coupling with his potential impact as a core special teamer. While nothing may jump out physically, Jones offers a consistency that should allow him to contend for a roster spot on a yearly basis.
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