At 6-foot-1 and 319 pounds, defensive tackle D.J. Jones hardly fits the stereotype of “athletic.”
But the 49ers’ recent sixth-round draft pick out of Ole Miss is deceptive. He may be stout, but he moves like a cat and has bear-like strength.
While at Mississippi, his head coach, Hugh Freeze, was incredibly impressed by his quickness when Jones first joined his program after starring at East Mississippi Community College.
“That’s one athletic dude,” Freeze said. “He’s very, very quick-twitched.”
He also was ranked by NFL.com as the 14th strongest player in all of college football for his 440-pound bench press and 650-pound squat.
The NFL.com scouting report on Jones before the draft by Lance Zierlein noted his “outrageous weight room strength” and the fact he plays from a low, wide base and is quick off the ball, with “rare reactive athleticism.”
This past season, Jones had 30 tackles (three for loss), two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.
As the 49ers transition into a new style of defense, with a 4-3 front, Jones will compete for a chance to be in the rotation in the interior of the line. And Zierlein, in a story for NFL.com Wednesday, believes Jones could be a force for the 49ers. In fact, he puts Jones and tight end George Kittle of Iowa, a fifth-round choice of San Francisco, among his five late-round draft picks that are likely to exceed expectations.
Wrote Zierlein: “Jones’ issue is that he is a little bit squatty and doesn’t always play with consistency. There are also questions about how he will handle NFL power at the point of attack. … However, Jones is a quick, disruptive interior lineman with the type of foot quickness that can give offensive linemen problems when he’s rushing the quarterback.”
Zierlein added that he believes Jones “could become an early contributor and eventual starter.”