Drafting A Good Player From A Horrible Program

April 9th, 2022

UCONN DT Travis Jones.

Joe knows all kinds of folks who wouldn’t even think of drafting a player from a rotten program.

In fact, Joe is confident there are readers on this here corner of the interwebs that wouldn’t draft any player who didn’t suit up for an SEC school.

Of course, this is dangerous thinking. Hell, the Bucs had two starting guards on the best line in the NFL who didn’t even play Division-I ball (Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa). So Joe is trying to keep an open mind about the Bucs possibly drafting a guy from UCONN.

Yes, UCONN! That would be defensive tackle Travis Jones.

Yes, Joe would prefer the Bucs bring in one of the two Georgia beasts, Devonte Wyatt or Jordan Davis. But those guys are likely going to be gone well before the Bucs pick at No. 27.

Joe heard Pat Kirwan of SiriusXM NFL Radio raving about this Jones. Apparently, he is big and fast. What’s wrong with that? Not a damn thing.

Kirwan even suggested with Jones’ wingspan and speed he might get away with playing some outside linebacker in a 34 defense.

Jones is a large man at 6-4, 325. He ran a 4.9 40 at the combine and has a wing span of 81.5 inches. Dane Brugler of The Athletic noted that Jones has very, very strong hands, key for any lineman.

Brugler, in his exhaustive draft guide known as “The Beast” believes Jones is the third-best defensive tackle in the draft and is either a late-first round or early-second round pick.

SUMMARY: A three-year starter at UConn, Jones played three-technique and nose tackle in defensive coordinator Lou Spanos’ four-man front. Recruited primarily as an offensive guard out of high school, he reshaped his body and developed into an impactful defensive tackle since joining the Huskies, despite a 21-month layoff between the 2019 and 2021 seasons and the program posting a 4-32 record (three of those wins vs. FCS teams) over his four years in college. A big-bodied athlete with strong legs and arms, Jones is quick off the ball and powerful through his hips to be disruptive vs. both the pass and the run. He uses quickness and forceful hand moves to get his nose in the gap, but he needs to harness his momentum and consistently use his secondary moves to shoot through. Overall, Jones’ pass rush technique is still a work-in-progress, but he creates problems for interior blockers with his athletic movements and explosive upper body to stack, shed and toss. He projects as an early NFL starter with two-gap potential.

Joe can’t say he has ever seen this Jones play. Joe watches a lot of college ball during the season but UCONN isn’t exactly on Joe’s radar. So you can watch his highlights below. Again, it is dangerous to judge a guy just for where he played his college ball. Jones is a big and fast dude and there really isn’t anything to hate about him.

Jones did seem to tear up Clemson, which says something. He sort of reminds Joe of Ed Oliver at Houston.

29 Responses to “Drafting A Good Player From A Horrible Program”

  1. Buczilla Says:

    Until we have the second comings of Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Warren Sapp, and Mean Joe Green on our defensive line, I’ll never complain about drafting another d linemen.

  2. Power of Pewter Says:

    Draft Rules:
    Never pass up a stud LT, DT, or QB.
    Every draft select at least one OL and DB, even if in the later rounds. Can never have too many, even if you have to stash a few on practice squad.

  3. SOEbuc Says:

    DT is not very deep but there’s some talent towards the end of the first. Would not be surprised at all if they a OG that is on top of there big board or hell even a CB. Never no what happens in 20 days, especially with the Bucs.

  4. GoKnights Says:

    You mean no UF players….

  5. sasquatch Says:

    There are players from crap programs, small school programs, etc… who enter the NFL all the time and have productive careers. I mean, we even see QBs drafted early from small programs. If a guy has NFL skills and gets the right coaching in the NFL, his college pedigree doesn’t matter much. Maybe it takes a little longer to acclimate to the NFL. Not a big deal. This dude looks like a beast and would look great lined up next to VV.

  6. Bucsfan4ever Says:

    He sounds interesting.
    Big, fast.,,..
    I’m sure he’s being looked at

  7. HC Grover Says:

    Matuszak and Alzado come to mind from small schools. Like BEASTS.

  8. Rod Munch Says:

    So I watched that alleged ‘highlight’ film, and I saw a guy who was being stood up 1-on-1 on most plays, and his only ‘highlight’ plays came from blown blocking assignments.

    Really unimpressive. It’s not like he’s being double teamed or the other teams seem to take any real notice of him.

    I’d guess he’s being talked about because of a good combine – and maybe this selection of ‘highlights’ was just done extremely poorly, but I didn’t see anything special there.

    With that said there wasn’t much to look at in those highlights, so Licht, if you’re reading this, maybe have someone else look at more than a 3-min YouTube video before you take him off your list.

  9. Bucs Guy Says:

    Bucs drafted some big school lD lineman from Clemson, Nebraska a nd USC that didn’t work out. The school means nothing. Can he play or not? I’ll trust Licht and his team to find the right pick. Suh is plan B.

  10. BelleGladeBuc Says:


    Thank you Joe for this article. Great sources.

    At the 0:27 mark the team is running a Split Inside Zone running concept that is attacking the A Gap.

    Travis Jones was being combo blocked by the Center and Guard as well as the tackle who should have been working second level because of zone blocking rules, but he couldn’t because Jones held his Gap and made the tackle.

    I liked his hand fighting and pass rush swim moves against Clemson’s guard and center starting at 0:44.

    I agree with you that we need defense @Rod, and I agree with Joe, I would love to get Wyatt or Price, but the reality is they will probably not be there at 27.

    This kid is big, strong, fast and agile.

    Joe gave us two sources who are respected football analyst. I disagreed with Kerwin during the Jameis era with all of Winston’s off field problems, but I am man enough to admit that he was right.

    Brugler from the Atlantic is AWESOME!

    If we could get Olave in the first like Joe has been talking about saying that he’s slipping down in some draft projections (how can you pass up on 6’2” guy with 4.3 speed and rat trap glue hands) and Jones in the second, you would instantly have two players that can help the Bucs and TB12 immediately.

  11. Bird Says:


    Agree. Those highlights are un spectacular
    And i checked different videos for him and all pretty much the same
    Not saying dude cant play. Just seems like another NT that is no vea. And pretty sure we wanted to get quicker there and i saw 40 time but again. Highlights make him look ehhh

  12. Allbuccedup Says:

    Looked good at the senior bowl!

  13. Defense Rules Says:

    Agree with Rod on this one; nothing spectacular screaming ‘1st Rnd Pick’ in that set of highlights. His 4.9 speed at the Combine is impressive for a DT, but those highlights made him look average at best. Nothing I saw yelled ‘Grab this guy, he’s Suh’s replacement for sure’.

    Small school doesn’t scare me (lots of excellent NFL players never made it past high school as I recall). Not at all opposed to picking ‘a project’, just not in the 1st Rnd. In the Top-3 Rnds still convinced we need a DT, DE/OLB & a CB (based on BPA when our pick comes).

  14. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We should take one of the GA DTs if they are there….if not, take the best CB on the board. Then DT/DE in the 2nd.

  15. A real bucs fan Says:

    I am so glad that we have all you guys as extra general managers..lol what a joke some of you guys are.

  16. Dooley Says:

    This kid next to Vita Vea will be problematic for opposing interior OLmen. It’s pretty clear he’s got NFL Size and his track record shows Jones has gotten better over time. The scouts & coaches see what they can turn some of these guys into on top of what they already are and Travis Jones can demand double teams, uses his hands well to keep blocks at bay, and has sneaky speed for a guy his size. So Imagine stacking he & Gholston/Nacho/Vea in the middle of the DL & having Barrett & JTS off the edge or how that 4.90 40 will translate to his get-off/closing speed when he penetrates the LOS.

  17. Jordan Says:

    Like Logan Hall more, way more athleticism. Has almost identical height and weight to Gholston.

    Not opposed to multiple defensive front picks though, but I think EDGE is a priority after DE. We’d be very very thin there with one injury to Barrett, Tryon, or Anthony Nelson. Production simply wasn’t good enough at EDGE last year either.

    The most ideal situation for us is to trade down from 27 to 35 with the Jets and pick up additional picks. We have different needs than most other teams in this draft and should use that to our advantage with a trade down. We also have more obvious future needs than last year.

  18. SKBucsFan Says:

    You can be a good player on a bad team. This just shows he is dedicated, he could have lacked up and went to a competitive program.
    There will be more than a few of the Georgia players that will turn out to be duds. It happens in Alabama every year. A good program elevates stock of some weaker players.
    I’d draft this guy in a heartbeat. Trade out of the first and we can get him and an OG in the 2nd.

  19. Beeej Says:

    Was Booker Reese from a big school?

  20. JeffreyLane77 Says:

    Sounds like an intriguing option. 345lbs and a sub 5 second 40yd? Jeez. Just please no more defensive ends from Clemson.

  21. Marine Buc Says:

    There are still a number of solid vet free agent DTs available…

    C. Campbell, A. Hicks, S. Richardson, L. Ogunjobi and Suh.

    If we can get this guy in the second round I say go for it. But not with our first pick.

    Would rather go with a solid CB or OLB/PR or even WR – one of them is going to fall to us at pick #27. We shouldn’t be reaching for DT this draft…

  22. BUCman Says:

    Can’t say I’m impressed with his tape. I’ve watched a fair amount on him since most likely he’ll be the top rated interior DL available at 27. Although he moves pretty well for a man his size there is nothing about his play that says First rounder. Even though they have a strong need on the interior DL that should not reach and take a second round player to fill the need. They definitely should take the highest player on their board regardless of position.

  23. tampabayallday Says:

    Only if we trade back into the early 2nd.

  24. chris bell Says:

    id prefer Logan Hall or Winfrey

  25. Posey99 Says:

    We all know Jason and his scouts like small school guys. Travis Jones over Davonte Wyatt for sure. Jordan Davis will be gone. This guy is gonna be a game wrecker in the NFL and worth the pick at 27. He’s who I’m hoping for.

  26. Cobraboy Says:

    JPP came from a “bad” school.

    Matuszak came from Missouri before Tampa U.

    Climbing into my WayBack machine, Noah Jackson, Ron Mikolajczyk, and Freddie Solomon also came from local “bad” (or, minimally, renegade) schools, too.

    A 6′ 4″, 325 DT who ran a 4.9 40 with an 81.5″ wingspan would be badass no matter where he came from.

  27. Rod Munch Says:

    Cobraboy – USF got to #2 in the nation when JPP, Selvie and Matt Grothe were there. Under Leavitt, USF was year in, year out a top 25 team. Don’t confuse what that moron Skip Holtz did to the team with what they were then.

  28. BUCman Says:

    A name nobody is talking about but should be: Edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie from Penn State…….if you haven’t seen him play watch his highlights on YouTube. Would be the perfect fit at edge in a three man rotation with Shaq Barrett & JTS. With it unlikely that JPP comes back we are a little thin at edge. We definitely need to improve our pass rush. I know DT is a bigger need but after the two Georgia boys who are likely to be gone by 27 there are none worth a first rounder. Ebiketie should be considered over the overly hyped Boye Mafe.

  29. stpetebucsfan Says:

    In another life I was a sportscaster and PBP guy in the Tri Cities of Tennessee.

    I saw Donnie Abraham play a lot at ETSU. 71st pick in the draft…I felt if the Bucs gave him a shot he’d flourish.

    ETSU had a bad a football program at that time as you could get. Talk about a gem from a horrible program.