Having looked at each of the Jets’ draft picks in detail, we’ve now moved on to discuss each of their undrafted free agent signings. We continue today with a breakdown of North Carolina State offensive lineman Tyler Jones.
The 23-year old is listed at 6’3” and 306 pounds and was a two-time first team all-ACC selection. He started 44 games in his college career, including 39 straight at left tackle in his last three seasons.
Jones attended high school in Georgia where he was an all-state performer. He was recruited to NC State in 2014 and redshirted his first season.
As a redshirt freshman, Jones was a valuable and versatile reserve, as he saw plenty of action and started five games, playing at three different positions.
Over his last three seasons, Jones became a full-time starter at the left tackle position and was selected as an all-ACC first-teamer for the last two.
Following his redshirt senior season, Jones was invited to the scouting combine and was a standout during East-West Shrine Game week. After this he was a projected mid-round pick. However, he surprisingly went undrafted and was signed by the Jets as an undrafted free agent.
Kyle Crabbs from the Draft Network had Jones on his all-undrafted team last month.
Now let’s take a look at what Jones brings to the table, divided into categories.
Jones is undersized and will need to improve on his functional strength to succeed at the pro level. He managed 23 bench press reps at the combine, which is below average.
He showcased some good athletic ability in the other drills as his explosiveness numbers were excellent and he posted a solid three-cone drill. However, his short shuttle was below average and he didn’t run the 40.
At his pro day, Jones opted to stick with his combine numbers and just did positional drills.
As noted, Jones started at left tackle in his last three years, but most draft experts believe this wasn’t the ideal position for him and that he’ll have to move inside at the pro level due to his lack of length.
As a redshirt freshman, Jones started three games at right tackle and two at left guard. He would also move to left guard on some short yardage plays during his time as the starting left tackle.
Jones developed into a solid pass protector with the Wolfpack, improving his pass blocking numbers over the course of his career to the point where he had the eighth lowest pressure percentage in this year’s draft class, according to PFF.
He had come a long way since his first appearance as a redshirt freshman, during which he gave up three pressures in just four pass blocking snaps. Over the last 25 starts of his career, Jones didn’t give up a single sack.
However, part of this was down to NC State’s offense which features plenty of quick passes. Also, the offensive line, anchored by Garrett Bradbury, operated well as a unit so the interior linemen would provide effective help to the tackles at times.
When required to hold up in a one-on-one blocking assignment, Jones’ deficiencies can be exposed. This sack in the 2017 season opener was the last one he gave up in his college career, but shows how pass rushers can get him off balance to separate.
Jones also can be susceptible to the bull rush, which will be of greater concern if he moves inside.
Jones is athletic enough to mirror in pass protection, but can allow his man to get separation by using their strength advantage against him. Even so, he battles well and can recover when initially beaten.
Jones isn’t a particularly dominant run blocker, but is generally at his best when going downhill or angling his man out of the play. He can also be effective working in tandem on combo blocks.
At the point of attack, pad level can be an issue, even though he isn’t tall, and his lack of functional strength can cause him to lose leverage at times.
While he was rarely called upon to pull and trap or get out in front of a screen, Jones displayed some good ability to block on the move, as on this play at the second level.
A lot of Jones’ assignments in the running game were pretty straightforward. He often just made a cut block immediately after the snap on a run going the other way.
Jones can be inconsistent technically, but when he puts things together, he looks the part and makes good use of his athletic ability. In the running game, he is capable of making a reach block.
He shows good technique against an attempted spin move here, with a well-timed strike and good footwork.
Generally speaking, though, his hand placement and the timing of his strikes can also be inconsistent.
While his pad level can get too high at the point of attack, he can have the opposite issue in space, as he has a tendency to lean into his man, folding at the waist and falling off his block.
Penalties haven’t been a major issue for Jones, who has had 14 in his career, but never more than four in a season.
In 2018, he had one holding penalty and three false starts. One of the false starts came on the play after he was called for the hold.
Other than limited appearances as a blocker on the placekicking unit, Jones didn’t contribute on special teams in college.
Jones has displayed good positional versatility and has good experience. He was part of a unit which, led by Bradbury, functioned efficiently most of the time and didn’t make a lot of mental errors.
Jones is expected to enter the NFL with a chip on his shoulder having unexpectedly not been drafted. He’s apparently getting good advice from Broncos edge defender Bradley Chubb, who was his roommate in college and remains a close friend.
Jones was suspended for half a game in 2017 after getting involved in a fight that took place after the Wolfpack had just beaten their rivals from North Carolina in overtime. A review of the film seems to show he was stepping up to protect his teammates.
During his redshirt freshman season, Jones was involved in a minor incident which saw him placed on team probation with several other players after some vehicles were damaged in what was described as a BB gun game.
Jones proved to be a durable player at NC State, starting every game and playing nearly every snap over his last three years. He even played over 500 snaps in his first season, where he served as a back-up. This saw him play at least 15 offensive snaps in 10 of the team’s games.
Jones is best suited to a zone blocking system, which the Jets will use under new offensive line coach Frank Pollack. NC State also played plenty of zone, although they also had some man/power looks to exploit Bradbury’s athletic ability.
On paper, Jones is one of the more high profile undrafted free agents the Jets picked up this year. He was one of only a few that went to the combine and had a draftable grade in most places.
However, there are some holes in his game and he looks at least a year away from being able to contribute. Over the next season or so, Jones will have to refine his technique, bulk up and work on his strength.
The team may be wise to explore whether he could be an option at center down the road. While he didn’t play that position with the Wolfpack, he claimed to be able to play center in a social media post after the draft.
On the whole, Jones’ experience, versatility and athleticism make him a worthwhile development project, but he doesn’t seem likely to crack the 53-man roster in 2019.