Despite the loss of Bryson Albright (who is doing rather well with the Buffalo Bills fwiw), the Miami defensive line looks to be in good shape in 2016 with the return of its sack leader from a season ago, defensive end J.T. Jones. Jones led the team with 14.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks as well as two pass breakups and a forced fumble in 2015 as part of a defensive line that had a knack for creating negative plays with a 7.2% havoc rate, which was 16th in the nation.
The line returns a lot of production alongside Jones, with juniors Ikeem Allen, AJ Burdine, and Zach Smierciak bringing back 16.5 TFLs and seven sacks between them. Jones will see some one-on-one opportunities on passing downs with all the talent up front, which he’s more than capable of winning. On run downs, you’d like your ends to be heavier than 265~ pounds, but the unit did a capable job of stuffing runs at a clip of 21.2%, which is around the national average of 19.6% so that shouldn’t be an issue.
An All-MAC Third Team selection last season, Jones is rated as the 43rd DE prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft per NFLDraftScout.com. At 6’2” and 263 lbs., he doesn’t have the length or girth of a traditional 4-3 end, so we’ll have to see how he tests at combines to see if he has the athleticism and change of direction to be a 3-4 outside linebacker in the league. He’s very good at using his hands to defeat blocks and bursts to the football well, which you love to see out of your defensive front. He’ll definitely be a tough match-up for MAC offensive lineman in 2016.