The 2017 NFL draft will likely feature a number of Notre Dame football players, but the one who’s most NFL ready isn’t the projected top 10 pick.
DeShone Kizer could be the only Notre Dame player selected in the first-round of the 2017 NFL draft. His 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns made him one of the hottest commodities come April. But he isn’t entirely ready for the next level.
His arm strength and athleticism will help him become of the NFL’s top play callers one day. Out of all the quarterbacks in the draft, Kizer is probably the most pro-ready when it comes to the physical aspect of the game.
His decision making and mental game are anther story. Kizer could easily lead a team to glory, but could just as easily make a costly turnover. Because of that, many believe it will be a few years before he’s ready to dominate in the pros.
Notre Dame’s top prospect may be Kizer, but their most NFL-ready player is on the other side of the ball.
Jarron Jones has been known more for his injuries than his play-making at Notre Dame. Dealing with an MCL injury, a stress fracture in his foot, and a Lisfranc injury through his career, Jones has never really had the opportunity to become the legendary defensive player he could’ve been.
NFL scouts and coaches always take injuries into consideration. If they didn’t, Jaylon Smith probably would’ve gone in the first three picks of the 2016 NFL draft. But much like Smith, Jones will have to wait to hear his name called when his talent should sit him in the first-round.
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Jones is Notre Dame’s most pro-ready player. He’s built much like former Notre Dame standout, Stephon Tuitt, who is currently becoming a major contributor to the Pittsburgh Steeler’s success. Like Tuitt, Jones has the speed, quickness off the ball, and strength to outmatch any interior linemen.
Jones’ size makes him the perfect fit to continue playing on the inside at the next level. His strength and lengthiness allow him to bullrush and drive linemen into the backfield. Even while he’s fighting off blockers, Jones does a great job reaching out and grabbing ball carries, bringing them to the ground with practically one arm.
Although his final season wasn’t as remarkable as he’d hoped, Jones has shown a lot of promise throughout his time in South Bend. Without some of the injuries, Jones would probably sit somewhere in the first-round of mock drafts.
The talent is there, and despite a poor 2016 season, Jones will still be a solid NFL defender. Most draft experts have him falling as far as the third-round of the draft. With an impressive combined, though, Jones could work his way up draft boards quick.
His size, strength, and athleticism are some of the best in this year’s draft. Without the injuries, Jones would’ve found himself near the top of the draft board. With an off year after dealing with multiple injuries, though, teams are hesitant. Given a chance, Jones will prove that he’s ready to make an impact at the next level immediately.