After spending four years in college, Naquan Jones is ready for the next step. Following the 2020 season, the Michigan State defensive lineman declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Jones finished his career with 77 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. His production in East Lansing was impressive enough to earn an invite to the NFL Combine, albeit the scouting event will be a bit different this year due to COVID-19.
Though he admit there are still areas of his game that he needs to work on, Jones has the strength needed to be a dominant force in the trenches. And with his work ethic, he could potentially develop into a three-down defensive tackle at the next level.
We caught up with Naquan Jones to discuss his time with the Spartans, preparation for the NFL Draft, and so much more.
The Spun: Has it hit you that you’re almost a month away from the NFL Draft?
Naquan Jones: It’s crazy – not necessarily crazy in a bad way. This process has opened my eyes to so much. I’m working harder than I was before and I’m more motivated than ever because my dreams are potentially becoming a reality.
The Spun: What do you want to show at your pro day?
NJ: I actually had somewhat of a pro day for my agency in California, but I have another one with Michigan State later this month. I just want to show them my ability to move. Show them that I’ve been working hard at dropping weight and getting better at my craft. I also want to show them the testing side of thing. That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with football, but testing well always looks nice. I want to go through the position drills and show coaches that I’m well-conditioned.
.@thealmightynay balled out yesterday in the @Hula_Bowl 💪 pic.twitter.com/dAi9gjZVj3
— Priority Sports (@PrioritySports) February 1, 2021
The Spun: You had an impressive spin move at the Hula Bowl. Where does that rank in your pass-rushing moves?
NJ: I’ve been working with my coaches, and they’ve improved my pass rush so much. My coaches have done a great job of showing tendencies. I knew Peyton Ramsey was a step-up type of quarterback, so if I spun back and countered back inside he’d be right in front of my face. I actually had a similar play against Northwestern during the regular season.
The Spun: You had the chance to play for Coach Mark Dantonio and Coach Mel Tucker. What’s the biggest difference between them?
NJ: The biggest difference is probably their approach. They’re very similar in certain ways and Coach Tucker started off at Michigan State as a graduate assistant, so they’re similar in a lot of ways. It’s different in a way that Coach Tucker brought his own style to Michigan State. Coach Dantonio was very stick to the script and this is how we’re going to do it. Coach Tucker just tries to bring some flavor and spice things up.
Thankful for it all 💚 pic.twitter.com/YNH3UnHYlF
— Naquan Jones 9️⃣3️⃣ (@thealmightynay) December 16, 2020
The Spun: How do you think the Spartans will fare under Tucker moving forward?
NJ: I think they’ll have a lot of success, especially in the near future. He’s trying everything he can do to win right now. He’s implementing success early in these guys. We obviously didn’t have that well of a 2020 season, which led to a lot of changes. He wants to instill greatness in everyone, and I think he’s on track to do that. He’s making sure that guys who love football and want to win are in his building at Michigan State.
The Spun: This season didn’t end the way you guys wanted to, but how’d it feel to beat Michigan in your final season?
NJ: It’s incredible. You establish a strong hate for Michigan when you go to Michigan State, and I’m sure they can say the same about us. That week leading up to the game we take everything personal. The coaching staff does the best job at hyping us up for it. Once you play that game, you can tell what I’m talking about. It’s a game that you’ll never forget and you know everyone is going to be watching. It’s one of those games where if you shine, people will know who you are. I went 2-2 against them in my career and was able to beat them one last time before leaving school. It’s just an incredible feeling.
Naquan Jones is massive/powerful at 6’4 340 pic.twitter.com/wS2Fu50CVi
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 26, 2021
The Spun: Who do you watch on film?
NJ: I love to watch Ndamukong Suh and Fletcher Cox because they’re bigger guys who have excelled in pass rush, similar to my body type. I obviously watch Aaron Donald, but I don’t think that’s necessarily fair because he makes the game look unrealistic because he’s an athletic freak.
The Spun: What’s your favorite part of the draft process?
NJ: Noticing myself getting better. The guys I was out in California training with – we built a very strong relationship in a short period of time because we have similar goals. Ta’Quon Graham from Texas, Alim McNeill from NC State, Carlo Kemp from Michigan, Will Sherman from Colorado, and Jermar Jefferson from Oregon State. Those guys became some of my best friends, yet we’ve only known each other for eight weeks. It was easy to build that bond when we identified that playing professional football was our dream.
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Naquan Jones?
NJ: You’re getting a hard worker, a guy who’s very passionate about football, a guy who loves to win, and a guy who won’t settle. A lot of guys tend to get complacent, but I’m a guy who loves to learn and get better. Coming into this process being a rookie all over again, I’m excited to pick up on new techniques I didn’t know. You’re also getting a good teammate and loves to build friendships. I really value people’s characters, so it’s easy to see who has your best interest at heart. I feel like I’m a really good teammate because I treat people like brothers. You’re also going to get a humorous guy who likes to interact with people.
.@MSU_Football @thealmightynay gets to start at DT for Team Kai in the 2021 @Hula_Bowl coached by Rex Ryan. Rex knows a little about the DL and what a good defense looks like. Get your 👀👀👀 inside tomorrow to watch some destruction from “Nay” #Sparty #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/oUsiftX5Th
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) January 31, 2021
Jones will get the chance to boost his draft stock at Michigan State’s pro day on March 24.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.
The post Q&A With Naquan Jones: Michigan State Career, Difference Between Mark Dantonio and Mel Tucker, NFL Draft Preparation appeared first on The Spun.
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