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Despite no sacks, Dre’Mont Jones is playing at an extremely high level

The former third-round pick has steadily ascended into the upper tiers of defensive linemen, and continues to rise in 2021

Los Angeles Rams v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Before the season started, I named DE Dre’Mont Jones the Denver Broncos’ Breakout Player of the Year. Jones was a talented prospect coming out of that 2019 NFL Draft, and many analysts thought he could have been a first-round pick with his gifts. He took several steps forward in 2020 that had me excited about his future.

So far, he’s met and, in some areas, exceeded my expectations for him.

This season, Dre’Mont Jones has played 113 defensive snaps, leading the Broncos’ DL group by a good 20 totals snaps. He hasn’t exactly lit up the box score so far through three games with four tackles, two tackles for loss, and zero sacks. Yet, as we all know, box score scouting is abysmal and rarely tells the whole story.

Jones has been disruptive across the board in all three games. Against New York, Dre’Mont Jones posted a pass-rush win % of 30.3%, beating out Von Miller’s mark of 24%. He’s primarily made his mark as a pass-rusher, but where he’s grown a lot is in the run game. Through three games, he’s earned a 91.3 run defense grade from PFF. Turning on the tape, we see why:

He’s playing so many more snaps than the rest of the defensive line because he’s the team’s best interior pass-rusher. Teams are having to pass more and more playing from behind against Denver. With all of those additional reps, one might think he’d have more in the box score. My counterpoint: He’s drawing double-teams. He’s also so quick into the backfield that he’s often the man the backs will take in pass pro, leaving it open for other rushers.

On a team with Von Miller and Malik Reed, Dre’Mont Jones is starting to draw frequent double-teams. When Bradley Chubb comes back healthy, the front becomes even scarier. He’s opening up opportunities for other players. Of course, he can’t be double-teamed on every play. When he’s left one-on-one and can pin his ears back, the results speak for themselves.

Jones can still grow as a pass-rusher by continuing to improve his arsenal of pass-rushing moves and counters, but he has rare quickness and explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. Those, combined with his growing technique, has made him a disruptive force on the interior of the Broncos’ defense that teams are starting to take note of. Jones continues to set up opportunities for teammates and frequently takes advantage of opportunities he has. He’ll be a critical player for the Broncos for the remainder of the season and in the future.

Don’t sweat the sacks. They’ll come.