Alas, Vikings Select Rookie Edge Rusher

Jan 30, 2021; Mobile, AL, USA; National defensive lineman Patrick Jones II of Pittsburgh (90) gets set at the line in the first half of the 2021 Senior Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Prophesied by some (including the author of this article) as the Minnesota Vikings first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, general manager Rick Spielman indeed got his right defensive end of the future. Christian Darrisaw was the first pick of the event for Minnesota.

Patrick Jones II was chosen from the University of Pittsburgh with the 90th pick of the NFL draft on Friday night. Jones will either start immediately opposite Danielle Hunter on the Vikings 2021 defensive line — or work his way in while Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum anchor RDE for a while. We shall see — but probably the latter.

The expediency for a starting EDGE rusher has kicked up in recent months as the aforementioned Hunter is allegedly discontented with his contract. If, for some reason, Hunter held out or was traded, head coach Mike Zimmer would be entirely spooked. At the moment, Hunter is the sole beacon of pass rush on the Vikings defensive line because players like Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson are predominantly pegged as run stoppers. So, another personality was necessary to mitigate the risk of a Hunter absence in 2021. If Hunter is fully ready to go for September, well, Jones and Hunter might eventually form a dynamic duo.

Joe Marino of The Draft Network worked up Jones’ scouting report like this:

Pittsburgh defensive end Patrick Jones II takes his talents to the NFL after a strong junior and senior campaign where he racked up a combined 24 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks in 22 games. Jones II is a balanced defender, capable of making an impact as a pass rusher and run defender but he doesn’t offer much in the way of scheme-versatility—he’s a 4-3 defensive end with almost no experience in a standup role, dropping in coverage, or playing on the interior. As a pass rusher, Jones II is hard-charging out of his stance and brings a good variety of moves to the table. He’s a smart run defender that competes for his gap, processes quickly, and understands how to counter blocks. The concerns with Jones II entering the next level is his lean frame, modest length, and the need to continue developing his hand technique. Jones II has the upside to start in the NFL and command a majority of the snaps in an even front defense.” 

CBSSports called Jones the 15th-beset EDGE rusher in this draft class and the 114th-best player overall.

Spielman had recent success in plucking a player from the University of Pittsburgh recently. It’s Brian O’Neill’s alma mater.

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