College football bowl season is officially underway. If you are like most NFL fans, you know some of the top NFL draft prospects but that is about it. As a Bears fan, I’ve been looking forward to the draft for a few months now, so I’ve gotten an early start on my scouting for the 2017 NFL draft.
Like last season, I will be breaking down the potential NFL players in most bowl games to give you an idea who to watch. I’ve tried to list at least one player on each team who has a shot at hearing their name called in the draft or at least getting a training camp invite.
If relevant, I’ll discuss how the player may fit on the Bears in 2017. So if you end up watching the St Petersburg Bowl, here are some players to keep an eye on.
St Petersburg Bowl: Miami (OH) vs Mississippi St
Monday, December 26, 11 a.m., ESPN
#91 DE JT Jones (6’3 | 263 | 4.76)
Productive pass rusher for the Redhawks who has 16.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. The 2nd team All-MAC player has been the Redhawks best weapon off the edge this year.
At the next level, Jones has the size, strength, and speed to play as either a down linemen in a 4-3 scheme or a stand-up edge rusher in a 3-4. He can beat blockers with both speed and power, but needs to prove that he can do it against top competition. The bowl matchup against an SEC team will be a good test for Jones as will the all-star game circuit.
Jones reminds me a little of Bears OLB Pernell McPhee. He has enough power to be an impact player against the run, but enough speed to be a pass-rushing force off the edge.
Jones is projected as an UDFA right now, but with a strong draft season could move into mid day three range. I think he’s underrated due to the fact that he plays in the MAC and could eventually develop into a weapon at the NFL level.
The Bears have had their best pass rush in over a decade this season, but teams can never have enough edge rushers. Jones needs to get stronger and fine-tune his technique, but has legitimate potential as a pass rush prospect.
Projection: 7th round-UDFA