Dre’Mont Jones is looking like a slam-dunk of a draft pick lately.
After playing only a handful of snaps through the first six weeks of the season, Jones started impressing coaches and earned more playing time. And the more time he’s played, the more he’s shown glimpses of greatness.
In Week 11, Jones earned his first sack against Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings. Two weeks later, in the Broncos win over the Los Angeles Chargers, Jones’ pressure on Philip Rivers forced a punt on one drive, and the rookie lineman even intercepted a pass in the first quarter of that game.
But, Jones’ best play came last week in the win over the Detroit Lions. The defensive end earned a career-high 2.5 sacks, with five combined tackles and three QB hits. That phenomenal play was even more brilliant when it was revealed after the game the rookie played through a fairly severely sprained ankle and was a game-time decision.
“It’s been good,” head coach Vic Fangio said of Jones’ progress this season. “I think the last few weeks — he had a pretty good sprained ankle and a lot of guys wouldn’t had played yesterday with what he had, but he wanted to play. I think that’s a good indication of who he is as a guy and he got rewarded with a couple of sacks. Those are the kind of guys you want on your team.”
Well, Jones’ gutsy performance not only earned him the 2.5 sacks, but also earned him the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award. He’s the second Broncos player to earn the honor, with Kareem Jackson taking it in Week 14 for his efforts in the win over Houston.
Jones becomes only the second Broncos rookie — joining Von Miller and D.J. Williams — to earn the honor. For Williams, it was a Week 16 great game in 2004; 7 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PD. Miller’s came in 2011, when he enjoyed a 10 tackle day, with 1.5 sacks and 1 PD.
After a quiet first half of the year, Jones has really come on lately as one of a handful of productive players Fangio’s found deep in the roster. First, it was linebacker Alexander Johnson and lineman Mike Purcell. Now, Jones is balling out, too.
Undoubtedly, Fangio’s impact on Denver’s defense is apparent, even in this down year. Our Zach Segars took a deep look inside the numbers yesterday; spoiler alert, the Broncos are better in nearly every defensive category.
As for Jones, he’s just another in a long line of Denver draft picks which are making John Elway and Co. look like gurus for the last two years of selections. 2018 brought Bradley Chubb, Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman and Josey Jewell. This year, Noah Fant leads all rookie tight ends in the major categories, Dalton Risner has been the Broncos’ best lineman, Drew Lock is now starting and playing surprisingly well and the cherry on top has been Jones.
Denver (6-9) finishes their season this week as they host the rival Oakland Raiders (7-8). Oakland needs to win to keep their playoff hopes alive and the Broncos will want to end their season; kickoff is scheduled for 2:25 p.m. MT. Sunday.