Second year defensive lineman DaQuan Jones was named a starter by Titans' head coach Ken Whisenhunt on Wednesday. Whisenhunt said specifically of Jones, "He's a starter at end, that's what we project." Whisenhunt went on to mention how well Jones played in the season finale against Indianapolis last season.
With all of this said, DaQuan Jones is still a bit of an unknown to Titans' fans. He only appeared in seven games as a rookie and was inactive for most of the early games of last season. He recorded eight total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble during those seven games. That isn't exactly encouraging for a guy who is going to shoulder a lot of responsibility in 2015. However, his lone start last season offered us with an extended look and provided some promising flashes.
The first thing that jumps off of the tape when studying Jones is his upper body strength. He has the ability to disengage and redirect fairly easily. Even when he appears to be locked up, Jones can still manage to overpower guys and get off blocks. Jones doesn't have overly long arms for the position, but he knows how to extend to keep blockers off of him. You will rarely see him get engulfed by anyone.
His 6'4, 322 pound frame serves him well, allowing him to dig in and anchor against incoming blocks. This is where Jones will shine in the NFL. His ability to anchor combined with his outstanding upper body strength should allow him to be a weekly disruption against the run. His hands are heavy and violent, allowing him to rip, punch or swim his way through blocks. Jones lacks burst, but he makes up for it with strong, explosive hands.
Jones is an average athlete. He lacks some agility and burst, but that is to be expected with a guy of his size. Don't expect him to shoot through many gaps or make explosive plays. He's a block eater that will earn his keep by shedding and tackling.
He likely is not going to offer much in the way of getting after the passer, due to his limited athleticism. Jones flashed some disruption coming up the middle when he was isolated one on one, but nothing consistent. He appeared to wear down a bit against Indianapolis, which is completely understandable considering that it was his first start.
Here's a look a Jones' athletic measurements from the 2014 combine, courtesy of mockdraftable.com.
DaQuan Jones is going to line up opposite of Jurrell Casey at the five tech defensive end position. Most of the time, he will be asked to line up and control the "B-gap," which is the gap in between the right tackle and right guard. This is playing to his strength, which is taking on blocks, anchoring and shedding. Jones has a chance to develop into a nice player, specializing in stuffing the run.