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Keandre Jones’ combination of leadership and skill could interest NFL teams

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The Terp’s ability to captain a defense could drive a team to take a chance on him.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Maryland at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the 2020 NFL Draft looms, Testudo Times will be taking an in-depth look at each Terp prospect. Lila broke down safety Antoine Brooks Jr. on Monday, Wes looked at running back Javon Leake on Wednesday and next up is linebacker Keandre Jones.

The Olney, Maryland, native is a leader, on and off the field, and a skilled defender who transferred to the Terps from Ohio State, where he spent three full seasons with the Buckeyes and appeared in a total of 34 games.

The numbers

Height: 6’3
Weight: 220 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.64 seconds (unofficial)
Vertical Jump: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A

What a team is getting

Jones’ greatest strength on the field is the combination of agility and speed. These skills allowed Jones to rush the opposing team’s quarterback and backfield, as well as drop back into the secondary, during his time in College Park.

“I would definitely describe myself as a high motor guy, always around the ball and looking to make high impact plays sideline to sideline,” Jones told Testudo Times on a recent podcast. “My game’s aggressive and [I’m] just looking to make a big play.”

As a senior, Jones led the team and ranked 27th nationally in tackles for loss with 15.0. He recorded a tackle for loss in 11 of the 12 games in 2019. Jones also led the Terps with seven sacks. He also forced three fumbles and recovered one in his lone season as a Terp, all leading up to being selected an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.

Jones’ ability to rush the quarterback helped him record a strip sack against his former team in his first trip back to Columbus.

The senior linebacker used his speed, one of his best strengths, to sprint straight forward past the freshman offensive lineman and ultimately sack the Buckeyes backup quarterback Chris Chugunov, while also forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Terps.

Pass breakups or deflections might not have been one of Jones’ more prominent statistics, but his ability to predict plays before they happen allowed him to pickup a huge stop against Michigan this past season.

Jones was able to predict and read where Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson would throw, allowing him to swat the football away on third down to force Michigan to punt in its own territory. This was one of two pass deflections that Jones had in this game.

When the Terps traveled to face Purdue, Jones recorded one of his best games of the year. He had four tackles, including two big tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.

Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer could not escape the speed from Jones before he was brought down by the linebacker. This is another play where Jones used his speed to get past the offensive line and attack the quarterback.

Jones’ ability to predict plays before they happen and his agility allowed him to change direction and tackle Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke behind the line of scrimmage.

Jones recognized Lewerke was running and was able to make a cut to the other sideline to make the tackle behind the line of scrimmage.

At Ohio State, Jones experienced what it took to win. He played in five games as a true freshman in 2016, but played in all 28 games in 2017 and 2018 when the Buckeyes won back-to-back Big Ten Conference championships. He won the Cotton Bowl in 2017 over then-No. 8 USC and the Rose Bowl in 2018 over then-No. 9 Washington.

Jones also has a very high football IQ and is able to detect plays before they happen. This goes along with his leadership skills, which allowed him to become a 2019 team captain in just his first year with the program.

After Maryland lost to then-No. 12 Penn State, 59-0, on September 27, Jones led a players only meeting in hopes of getting back on track. The Terps had started the season 2-0 with two blow out wins and then fell to 2-2 after losing to Temple and Penn State.

“I called it up because I feel like we can do way more and way better than what we were doing these last past two weeks,” safety Antoine Brooks Jr. recalled Jones telling everyone.

Jones, having only spent four games as a Terp, took accountability and called a players only meeting to fix issues that he thought were occurring.

“I’m a great leader on and off the field by my actions,” Jones said during his Virtual Pro Day.

The combination of Jones’ winning experience at Ohio State and leadership at Maryland could interest NFL teams to draft him in the late rounds.

Draft projections

Most major outlets don’t have Jones listed as a top linebacker prospect and most don’t have him getting drafted, but he is likely to sign an undrafted free agent contract if he is not picked.

Jones is ranked the No. 48 linebacker prospect and the No. 425 overall prospect, according to CBS Sports’ 2020 NFL Draft prospect rankings.

Coming out of Good Counsel High School, ESPN ranked Jones a 5-star prospect, the No. 28 overall player and the No. 3 linebacker in the class of 2016. He was a two-time all-Maryland and Washington Post all-metro team member, as well as an Under Armour All-American after his senior campaign.

Although CBS Sports is the only major outlet to rank Jones as a prospect, he has the winning experience, leadership, size, speed, agility, and football knowledge to potentially play at the next level.

Consensus: Round 7-UDFA