Going into the NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings were in desperate need of a pass rusher. Many analysts, including myself, had the belief that they were going to take one of Jaelan Phillips or Kwity Paye at 14. Based on the offseason talking points and how everything had transpired, it seemed like a sure thing. When the Vikings traded back to 23, the so-called sure thing was in jeopardy and both of the top guys ended up coming off the board by the 21st pick. Once that happened, the Vikings lucked into Christian Darrisaw. What transpired after pick 23 complicated things.
The depth of the edge class was guys with day 2 grades. Odafe Oweh, Payton Turner, Gregory Rousseau, and Joe Tryon were all players that I expected for the Vikings to have serious interest in. Their size profiles fit what the Vikings like while all of them but Rousseau fit the athletic testing thresholds they historically prioritize. Unfortunately, all 4 of those players went in the last 5 selections of the first round. That left Joseph Ossai and Azeez Ojulari as the only players at the position worth selecting early on day 2. With how the board fell, the Vikings decided to prioritize other positions and wait on a pass rusher. Once pick 90 came around, they decided their wait was over and took the redshirt senior from Pitt Patrick Jones II.
When I wrote up Patrick Jones II back in March, I came away less than impressed. A unanimous first-team All-American, Jones II was a player that had a high motor and production but didn’t seem to have the skills and athleticism to be a major success in the NFL. Once the Vikings made him their selection in round 3, I did another deep dive to try and better understand what the Vikings were thinking when they made the selection. Unlike my previous pieces, I won’t be focusing on a true scouting report, but rather focusing on what he does and doesn’t and how that will translate to potential success.
Pass Rush Plan
One of the things that stood out to me on first watch with Jones II was that he didn’t have a pass rush plan. Upon re-watch, I evolved that opinion.
It’s not so much that he doesn’t have a plan, but more so that he’s stubborn and premeditates his move pre-snap and doesn’t evolve from there. Regardless of what the tackle shows, he goes with his move. One thing that he can improve upon in this area is utilizing moves smarter against different looks and alignments.
Quantity Over Quality
Upon my re-watch of Jones II (which included two games from 2019), I noticed much more of a move set than I had seen previously. He utilizes the club & rip, swim, snatch & pull, and speed to power with varying levels of success. One thing that is consistent with Jones: he doesn’t have a developed move whatsoever, but has 4 moves that are worthy of development.
Regardless of the move he uses, Jones II loves to find his way inside. From a 5T to a wide 9, he feels very comfortable transitioning his pass rush to the inside. With how multiple Andre Patterson likes to use his edge rushers, his confidence and willingness to rush on the interior will be a valuable asset to the Vikings defense.
Counters Are Non-Existent
The following rep is the epitome of Jones II’s issues. He has no idea what to do if his initial plan fails.
Of all the things that he has issues with, this is far and away the biggest of them all. For a guy who had 5 years at Pitt, it is worrisome that he is so underdeveloped in this area. However, Jones II was a part of a very successful defensive line and didn’t have to have that in his arsenal to be successful, as he amassed 17.5 sacks over the last two seasons. However, in the NFL, Jones II will need to develop that and technique work is the specialty of Andre Patterson.
Discipline And Motor
As a redshirt senior, one thing that you want to see is discipline in the running game. Jones II stays disciplined in rushing lanes and is a sure tackler. Not on that, but his effort and pursuit are also excellent. As shown in the clip below, Jones II doesn’t have quit in his game.
Upon re-watch, I do see more of an appeal for the Vikings than I previously thought. While he doesn’t have a true weapon in his pass rush arsenal yet, he does have multiple tools that are intriguing to develop. I think you have to choose one of them to help maximize his effectiveness right now. Can he be something quality down the line? I believe so. His quick first step and ideal size will help him get established quickly as Andre Patterson continues to work with him. He loves to use the little length he has to get into the defenders chest, but it’s not his strong suit. Later this week, I will be doing a breakdown on Janarius Robinson, who has the much bigger upside. His selection at 134 justifies the process of taking Jones II first as a guy who can step in right away but has a lower ceiling. With the Vikings in win-now mode, I understand the selection even though in a vacuum flipping the picks makes much more sense. This year, I beleive Jones II will be a rotational guy immediately and could be the starter over Stephen Weatherly by the end of the season.