The Tennessee Titans just lost a big piece of their offensive line, Jack Conklin, in free agency to the Cleveland Browns. Conklin was pivotal in Derrick Henry’s dominance throughout the 2019 season, so how can they try to replace him? Enter Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones.
He’s a talented offensive line NFL Draft prospect with physical traits that mimic those of Laremy Tunsil is being slotted around the 29th pick, where the Titans are selecting.
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 28, 2020
In the 2019 NFL Draft, a prospect of a similar build and play style in Andre Dillard from Washington State was selected at pick 22 by the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly fell in love with Dillard’s upside enough to trade up for him from pick 25, so selecting Jones in the first round makes plenty of sense.
Jones, similarly to Dillard, was a dynamic force at tackle for a pass-heavy offense in college. This allowed Jones to become a sound pass-blocker and learn how to better counter edge rushers’ moves on a play-to-play basis. His growth was clear as he learned how to better recognize finesse and power moves.
Jones was a four-year starter at Houston, but his senior season was when he took his biggest strides. His athleticism is elite, but he’s technically extremely raw. Being a great zone scheme blocker, Jones thrives when using his arm length and explosiveness to knock defenders off their set. Even when he is left 1-on-1 against rushers, he can still be very effective if used in the correct way.
ANOTHER Josh Jones highlight💪 pic.twitter.com/F9oWst7lQ0
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 23, 2020
At 6’5 and 311 pounds, you can certainly imagine the difficulties defenders have getting around him to get to the quarterback. Surprisingly though, his movement is what makes his size even more impressive. A mammoth ballerina, Jones could be very important in slowing down pass rushers like J.J. Watt, Yannick Ngakoue, and Josh Allen.
On the other hand, his pre-snap processing is still lacking, possibly a product of a simple system at Houston and lackluster line talent around him. He’ll need to keep improving this to prevent being another “project tackle” that never really works out like Greg Robinson or Robert Gallery.
Jones also needs to work on his footwork at the snap as he sometimes over-commits and gets burnt quickly. He can make up for this sometimes with his length and bend, but at the next level that will be much tougher.
In the long-term, he has the traits to become a top-tier tackle in the league, but it could be a process, so patience will be key.
Jones dominated some really talented defensive ends and linebackers when he was able to establish himself and land his punches well. Jones is also relentless in the run and his fantastic movement can be key for screen plays.
Houston OT Josh Jones has looked stout in pass protection this week, but look at this man when getting to the second level, working Wisconsin LB Zach Baun. pic.twitter.com/PDo4xA7VAO
— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) January 23, 2020
Luckily for Tennessee, offensive line coach Keith Carter has been very productive in his first two seasons in developing guys. He has turned Dennis Kelly into a productive rotational lineman. He has also helped Ben Jones become one of the most underrated centers in the league. Not to mention, he made the most out of rookie guard Nate Davis in 2019.
Josh Jones may not sound like the biggest splash pick in the first round, but he has the potential to create a solid duo alongside Taylor Lewan for the Titans for years to come.
Featured Image: Kevin Hickey-USA Today Sports.