Former Northwestern linebacker Joseph Jones didn’t hear his name called during the 2017 NFL Draft, but he didn’t have to wait long before teams were in hot pursuit to sign him as an undrafted free agent.
Jones didn’t receive a lot of playing time with the Wildcats, seeing action in only 27 games over the course of four seasons after redshirting his first year. His supreme athletic skills made him a special teams’ ace for the squad, but he earned more playing time as the years went on. He saved his best for last, and in his senior season earned a starting role, where racked up 46 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, as well as two sacks.
Name: Joseph Jones
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 2nd Season
A virtual unknown for most of his collegiate career, Jones was dubbed as a late draft riser by Pro Football Weekly after he posted impressive athletic numbers at his Pro Day — in particular a 4.45 40-yard dash. While he lacked significant experience with the Wildcats, eye-popping measurables like that will almost always get you a shot to be a developmental player in the National Football League.
He originally signed with the Dallas Cowboys, but failed to make their final roster. Over the next few months, Jones bounced around on various practice squads around the league (Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks). After playing for three different teams, the fourth time as the charm for Jones, who signedwith the Broncos last November — where he flashed enough skills to earn a spot on the roster and play special teams.
Joseph Jones of the Denver Broncos (LB) is spending his off-season coaching at his alma mater, Plano. Jones still holds the 55 HH record for the Pntrack Invite, 7.3. Jones was IHSA Class A 110 HH champ in 2011 and played at football at Northwestern. pic.twitter.com/pkH0d8uPsw— Tony Holler (@pntrack) March 11, 2018
As mentioned above, Jones is known for his top-tier athleticism. According to our friends at Inside NU, Jones had a lot experience in pass coverage and was a linchpin in their nickel defense. Another positive note worth mentioning is that he has spent time with the franchise and has familiarity with the coaches. He didn’t see action at any point in time on defense, but had 159 total snaps on special teams in 2017.
At this point in time, Jones is purely a physical specimen who lacks the experience necessary be anything more than a practice squad player in the NFL at this point in time. If he wants to make the team, he will have to show he can come in and do more than just play special teams. That will be tough with a handful of other linebackers on the roster ahead of him with higher potential and more experience.
“For me, it’s all about an opportunity. Same for these guys, really for everybody, we’re just looking for that chance to pursue our dream we’ve been chasing since we were little kids, well, for me, since eighth grade.” — Jones in an interview with Pro Football Weekly’s Kevin Fishbain
One of the fiercest training camp battles will be in regard to who earns a back-up role at inside linebacker. Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis are etched in as the Broncos’ starters, but the two or three positions behind them are up for grabs. The franchise useddraft selections on Josey Jewell and Keishawn Bierria, who are likely to make the team’s final roster.
Jones faces a steep uphill battle to make the team’s final 53 man roster. He does have special teams experience with the Broncos, but so do players such as Jerrol-Garcia Williams and Zaire Anderson — who will be fighting for a role on the squad as well. Nevertheless, he possesses the athletic traits necessary to merit a spot on the practice squad if he doesn’t make the cut come September.