Several days before the draft, DE Phillip Merling was the guy I hoped the Titans would select at #24. DT Kentwan Balmer was my second choice. In the next few days though, I heard a few negative things about Balmer, such as a questionable work ethic and a tendency to take plays off, so Balmer dropped down my list a few spots.
Recognizing the need for speed on offense, and not seeing another DT worthy of #24, I made Felix Jones my second choice and Chris Johnson moved into the third spot. Jones went off the board at #22 and I can’t say I was overly disappointed with Johnson getting the nod instead of Merling. Especially when the Titans addressed defensive end by selecting Jason Jones in the second round.
There have been some good things said about Jones. One of them is that he can play DE but also can move inside to rush the passer as a DT.
“He can come in and line up at end for us, he can move inside and be a rush tackle,” said Titans coach Jeff Fisher. “We feel like he has growth potential to move inside and end up as a very, very good defensive tackle prospect.”
Is he a tweener like Tony Brown? They’re similar in size. Jones is now listed at 275 pounds and Brown at 285. Both of them are small for a DT but a little on the large side for a DE in a 4-3 defense.
Scout Johnny Meads offered this opinion:
“The guy is a phenomenal athlete. He played basketball in high school. He went to Eastern [Michigan] as a tight end. The size (6-5), the long arms, the 275 they moved him down inside on pass downs at defensive tackle as well as defensive end when they moved him on the defensive side from the tight end position, so he has the athleticism. He has the will. When all the guys watched him on tape, you know how giddy Coach Washburn gets with guys that he likes. He started talking to me about the guy as soon as he saw him on tape, that he could be a guy that could come in and fill a role for us as a defensive end having lost Antwan (Odom) and Travis (LaBoy). Not only that, he gets an opportunity to play like Antwan did looking at boots and things like that with his long arms. We think he can eventually move down inside. Coach Washburn may look at him doing that, so he has some versatility, hes an athlete, and as coach said, hes smart.”
I suspect Jones will see a lot of action at both DE and DT, sometimes depending on the situation. D-line coach Jim Washburn is leaving his options open.
“He can be OK out there, but what he is is an inside player, Washburn said. He weighs 273 or something like that and that hasnt been an issue because he was strong against the run. He was sort of unusually strong. Im not sure, Ive just got to see.
There’s always a risk that a tweener won’t pan out at either position but I have a good feeling about Jones. He has the potential to help fill an immediate need and if Jim Washburn likes him, it’s hard to disagree.