The Ravens drafted Travis Jones, an interior defensive lineman, out of the University of Connecticut in the third round of this year’s draft. Have the Ravens found their next great defender in Jones?
The Baltimore Ravens, since their inception, have made a concerted effort to have a strong and effective front seven. Over the years the Ravens brass has annually added pieces to their defensive line and linebacking corps to foster some of the best defenses in the NFL. While they had the luxury of having legends such as Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs take the helm, the bull work was done by those on the interior.
Names such as the late Tony Siragusa, Trevor Pryce, Cory Redding, and Haloti Ngata were integral pieces to the Ravens’ defenses and the team’s draft history reflects how much emphasis they put on this group. The Ravens’ love for the front seven was certainly exemplified in their 2022 draft class. Pass rusher David Ojabo was a steal in the second round after falling down draft boards due to an Achilles tear he suffered during his spring pro day at Michigan.
Later, in the third round, the Ravens got another great value pick in former UCONN defensive tackle, Travis Jones. After a stellar offseason process including a stunning performance at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, Jones became a darling for media scouts. What will Jones become for the Ravens this year and beyond?
How Ravens Rookie Travis Jones Could Contribute This Year
The Ravens opted to bring back former Samford undrafted free agent, Michael Pierce, who played with the team from 2016 to 2019. This meant that franchise cornerstone, Brandon Williams, would not be returning and so the Ravens found themselves with a depth issue at nose tackle. The answer for them was Jones, who through the early weeks of the preseason has looked great despite his third-round pick status. Jones had a great first game against the Tennessee Titans and has made quite the impression on teammate Calais Campbell.
Jones was a player many people fell in love with due to his natural athletic traits. He brings functional play strength and lateral movement skills. He was consistently able to supplant opposing guards in the run game while giving centers hell with his first step quickness and gap penetration skills. At Connecticut, Jones displayed plenty of hand power which helped him leverage backfield pressure in both phases of the offense. He displayed good vision when run fitting, showing he can fill his lanes and maintain a steady stance to close off options for running backs.
At the Senior Bowl, he showed off his lower half power when facing off with some of the best interior linemen in the country. Jones left Mobile as one of the biggest risers in media draft boards which he followed up with an incredible showing at the NFL Combine. At six-foot-four, 325 pounds, Jones ran a blazing 4.92 40-yard dash while putting up a great 9.22 in the three-cone drill. These numbers are certainly reflected in his film, as he consistently showed off his closing burst in the short area.
Through the Ravens’ first preseason games, Jones made the most out of his snaps at the nose tackle position. His most exciting play of the night came when tracked down Titans’ quarterback Malik Willis, showing off that same incredible speed as he did during the NFL Combine.
It’s unlikely that Jones will start in 2022 providing that Pierce stays healthy through much of the season. He’s currently behind Pierce on the depth chart. Despite this, the Ravens will likely heavily feature Jones in the rotation as a nose tackle with the potential to see some action at three-technique. Jones has the tools to win from multiple angles so it stands to reason that Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald will try to scheme ideal matchups for the young tackle. It’s far too early to tell if Jones will be the next great Ravens trench player, however, one has to like the chances of a player with this many tools at his disposal.