Travis Jones, UConn
Man, Travis Jones is just a space-eater, and it’s awesome. He’s a strong, powerful guy, and at 6’4 325, he has the body type to succeed at the NFL level. Strength-wise, Jones is exactly what the NFL is looking for in a modern defensive tackle. Jones has the ability to move just about anyone off their spot, and will eat running backs alive with his 34″ arms. Jones is nearly unblockable in one on one situations, and also has the potential to really grow into something special at the professional level.
On the other hand, he’s just not very twitchy. For everything that he has in the strength and size department, NFL teams these days want guys who can get up and go. Jones is probably going to struggle against most teams who run a wide zone offense, as he simply doesn’t have the quickness to keep up with their play design. I think his hands need work. Jones never seems to be in control of his rush, but rather getting by with extreme amounts of brute force. You need some finesse to succeed in the NFL, and I’m interested to see if he can cultivate that finesse.
Comparison: Multiple NFL scouts and independent writers have compared Jones to Johnathan Hankins, and that’s perfect for me.
Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma
Perrion Winfrey has fallen off a cliff during this draft process, and I’ve never been quite sure why. At the start of last season, Winfrey was projected as a top pick, and now I barely see him in the back end of the first round anymore. Winfrey is an explosive, powerful defender, with enough football smarts to consistently get into the backfield tackles for loss. At 290 pounds, he’s a bit light for a defensive tackle, but his quickness and range of movement makes up for that, at least in my opinion. He has both the power and quickness that NFL teams are looking for, and you have to search really hard to find why he’s fallen off so much.
The answer there is that Winfrey has a bit of a tight frame when it comes to changing directions and being fluid. For as explosive and powerful as his hips and legs are, there’s barely any change of direction or movement there. Winfrey can move with the best of them, but he struggles taking that movement laterally instead of downhill. Not to mention, he doesn’t have the reaction time that NFL teams are looking for. Sure, his quickness makes up for that, but could you imagine if he was timing the snap count correctly and was that quick? It’s tantalizing enough to make scouts dock him for it.
Comparison: This is the Fletcher Cox comparison that I’m looking for. Both of these guys can absolutely move, and they played heavier than they are when coming out of college.