Some National Football League draft experts have described Chris Jones as a very raw version of J.J. Watt. The team that employs Watt must not disagree with that assessment, because they drafted Jones. Jones became the first player from Bowling Green State University to be drafted since 2007 when he was selected 198th overall and 30th in the sixth round by the defending AFC South champion Houston Texans.
Jones joins a defense that ranked seventh in total yards allowed in the 2012 season (after ranking second in 2011) and featured the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (Watt). It is also a defense led by one of the best defensive coaches in recent NFL history. Wade Phillips has had success at virtually every one of his stops, as he has coached great defenses in Philadelphia, Denver, Buffalo, San Diego and Dallas. He has coached players such as Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Karl Mecklenberg, and DeMarcus Ware.
The position coaches also bring a lot of experience for Jones to learn from. Bill Kollar has coached defensive lines for several NFL teams over the last two decades, and his new assistant, Jeff Zgonina, played for 17 seasons and eight teams. Zgonina was part of the St. Louis Rams championship team in 1999.
Jones will compete among a deep group of defensive linemen for playing time. The Texans have established starters in Watt, Antonio Smith and Earl Mitchell. They also drafted two other defensive linemen -- Sam Montgomery (LSU) and Trevardo Williams (Connecticut).
One transition that Jones will have to make is an adjustment to Houston's 3-4 defense. Given his size, it is unlikely that he would be stuck in the middle opposite the center, so to win a job, he must be able to handle switching to end.
ESPN has this to say about the pick:
Jones is an overachiever who makes up for his below-average measurables, including marginal top-end speed, with tenacity and toughness. He doesn't take snaps off or back down. He's also an effective hand fighter who can get off blocks even if he gives ground initially.
In a piece on HoustonTexans.com, Texans' general manager Rick Smith and head coach Gary Kubiak identified Jones as a possible sleeper for the 2013 season:
"I really liked him," Smith said. "I think when he comes in the building, just the way that he approaches the game and the kind of make-up that he has, I think it’s going to be very hard to keep him off the field because he just plays relentlessly, and very productive."
Finally, here is video of a brief post-draft press conference for Jones:
We'll see soon enough if Jones can end up playing next to the player he is most compared to.
Jones was not the only Bowling Green player to find a spot on an NFL roster on Saturday. According to the BGSU athletic department, offensive lineman Jordon Roussos has signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks.