Draft 2021 – Pick #2: Ernest Jones, ILB, South Carolina

Player Bio
Jones is a former first-team all-state pick at Ware County High School who enrolled early at South Carolina but missed 2018 spring practices with a fracture in his back. He managed to play in five games in the fall, making 16 tackles. Jones left Columbia for the NFL draft after the 2020 season, which marked the second straight year he led the Gamecocks in tackles. He made 86 stops, including five for loss, in nine starts in 2020, one year after posting 97 tackles (5.5 for loss), two interceptions and five pass breakups in 12 starts. — by Chad Reuter

NFL Comparison
Micah Kiser

Two-down linebackers with limited speed and below-average athleticism aren’t exactly in vogue these days, but Jones has the field IQ and interior toughness to warrant consideration. He’s a blue-collar linebacker capable of handling the physical duties required of his position, but he will always have limitations in pursuit speed and coverage talent. He has a good feel for diagnosing blocking schemes and finding runners between the tackles, so a role as a backup inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense might be his best fit early on in his career.

  • Brings a banger’s mentality to the field.
  • Good football IQ.
  • Stacks up tackles and is always near the football.
  • Plays with consistent pad level throughout the rep.
  • Reads keys and feels the blocking scheme to find the runner.
  • Takes diagonal steps downhill to squeeze B-gaps on combo blocks.
  • Fits up into his run gaps and will take on lead blocks with pop.
  • Meets angle blocks with stiff hands to stay clean.
  • Rarely overly eager in biting on misdirection.
  • Consistent body striker with wrap-up finish as tackler.
  • Below-average athlete by NFL standards.
  • Operates with some stiffness in lateral scrapes.
  • No burst gear to run down backs headed for the edge.
  • Needs consistent positioning to leverage gap against guards.
  • Doesn’t play with gap-shooting burst for big plays.
  • Average balance and agility fighting through blocks.
  • Gets too far downhill and can’t chase bounce-outs.
  • Labored change of direction will take him off the field on passing downs.
By Lance Zierlein
NFL Analyst

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