After watching Los Angeles Rams all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald make the game clinching play in Super Bowl LVI, the Cowboys can start their path towards building a title contender of their own by getting stronger at the position this offseason.
While the Rams used the draft, free agency, and trades to improve their roster, the Cowboys prioritize building through the draft. Dallas drafted three defensive linemen last year in Osa Odighizuwa, Chauncey Golston, and Quinton Bohanna, all of which showed promise in their rookie years.
This makes the Cowboys targeting an interior player with their top pick unlikely, though Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins are set to hit free agency. A developmental player with run-stopping ability and upside as a pass rusher in the second or third round would be a great pick for Dan Quinn’s defense in year two.
Connecticut DT Travis Jones, a standout from the Senior Bowl where the Cowboys have a deep history of finding their future stars, could be that guy.
Wouldn't mind having Travis Jones and Micah Parsons both going after the QB in Dan Quinn's defense. pic.twitter.com/KIuUOL244f— Sean Martin ✭ (@SeanMartinNFL) February 14, 2022
Connecticut DT Travis Jones: Strengths
Jones is at his best when lined up as a zero technique, or directly over an offensive lineman. This is where his explosive first step and strong hands allow him to make quick work of guards and shoot into the backfield. Jones’ length as a 6’4”, 326-pound tackle helps him knock back blockers with ease.
For a player his size, Jones shows an impressive amount of finesse as a pass rusher. Jones plays with great leverage and doesn’t allow lineman to push him up field. His best rush move is a quick rip that clears his hands and allows him to close. This is a player that moves well in tight spaces with above average lower body bend.
Against Clemson, Jones was consistently double-teamed, and took on those blocks well with a wide base. Winning his one-on-one reps, Jones makes quick work of single blocks and gets in the backfield with ease.
Connecticut DT Travis Jones: Weaknesses
Jones’ pad level is the first step towards making him a more consistent player. Playing too high at times, he was used on stunts up front but he struggled to stay tight to the line and create rush lanes for teammates. His get-off as a pass rusher will need to improve against the speed of NFL offenses, giving Jones less time to hand fight at the line of scrimmage.
Connecticut DT Travis Jones: Summary
Jones is a mid-second to third-round talent that has a chance to make an immediate impact as a run defender. His upside to be a three-down interior player with some position flex at edge makes him a scheme fit for almost any team.
The Cowboys need to continue adding talent to their front if they want to maximize a defense built around linebacker/pass rush hybrid Micah Parsons. An interior presence like Jones that can occupy blocks and disengage to make plays is the perfect target for their current 56th overall pick.