Of all the undrafted players the Jets brought in after the 2015 draft, I was most excited about Taiwan Jones, the former Michigan State linebacker. I tend to watch a lot of Big 10 football, and Notre Dame played Michigan several times during Jones college career, so I managed to watch him up close.
Don't get me wrong, Jones is not a first round talent, but I was surprised he made it all the way through to the undrafted pool. There were not 256 players better than Taiwan Jones in the 2015 NFL draft. He played in a good football conference, for a big program and was successful and productive.
In his senior season he ended up with 60 tackles, 12.5 for a loss, 4 interceptions, 2 fumbles recovered and an interception. In many ways he reminds me of Demario Davis and David Harris, in that he is in his element up at the line, playing the run, hitting someone in the mouth.
In today's NFL, you have to be able to play the pass. Unfortunately for Jones, he struggled in coverage as a college athlete and that won't get any easier in the NFL. In fact, he was taken off the field at points on obvious passing downs with the Spartans and when he was targeted, a completion usually followed.
However he's a big unit at over 6'3 and 245lb's, he's an intimidating presence and if nothing else, he will immediately help on special teams. Unfortunately for Jones, the Jets signed Jamari Lattimore from Green Bay this off-season, a true special teams standout who also has experience at linebacker. Then you look at Erin Henderson, another linebacker recruit, this time from Minnesota, if he can stay clean and healthy, he has starting potential.
Jones will have his limitations in the NFL, but if he was partnered with a good coverage backer, he could be useful. He's immediately useful as a rotational guy and a special teamer, and I expect him to make some noise in camp, mainly by hitting anything that comes within 15 feet of him.
I love Jones as a player and had he come into the league 15-20 years ago, he's be starting material from day one. Unfortunately we're in an era where passing is king and coverage ability from a linebacker is heavily preferred. i still think he'll carve out a role for himself in the NFL and I wouldn't be surprised to see him last a long time. For the Jets? He'll battle for a roster spot, but with the addition of Lattimore and Henderson, he may come up short. At the very least, he's set for a practice squad spot.