San Francisco 49ers rookie defensive lineman D.J. Jones joined us for a conversation on the latest "No Huddle" podcast. Co-hosts Al Sacco and Zain Naqvi have already called Jones a steal in the draft and feel that he, along with much of the draft class, will be a big contributor this season and going forward – perhaps even taking over as a starter along the interior of the defensive line sooner rather than later.

Earlier this month, NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein named Jones as one of the two 49ers players on his list of five late-round draft picks who are likely to exceed expectations in 2017.

"Jones is a quick, disruptive interior lineman with the type of foot quickness that can give offensive linemen problems when he's rushing the quarterback," Zierlein wrote. "I saw flashes against SEC competition that made him look more like a third-rounder than a sixth-rounder and if he plays to his ability, he could become an early contributor and eventual starter."



How does Jones respond to accolades like that? "I'm already my biggest critic," he told 49ers Webzone. "I've got to be the best so I've got to do things to make myself the best. I just want to work as hard as I can. If starting is in my future, let that be. It depends on how hard I work for it."

Jones says that all of his reps during organized team activities have come at nose tackle but there has been no early indication of what the final plan for him might be in regards to his role on the 49ers defense. The emphasis, thus far, has been learning the playbook and watching game film.

In 2015, Jones played in every game for Mississippi, starting three and making 40 tackles, 5.5 for loss, and four sacks. He started all 12 games during his senior year. Over the past two years, Jones accumulated 70 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, and six sacks in 25 games.

What can fans expect to see from Jones with the 49ers? "I do believe I'm one of the faster nose tackles," Jones said. "My feet -- I think I use them more than my power -- my finesse, and my lower center of gravity. I like to get up on the pads and drive an offensive lineman back. And my hands, my hand speed. Just my instincts to get to the quarterback. That's what I enjoy."

Anyone who questions the athleticism of the 6-foot-1 and 319-pound Jones should take a look at what the big man has pinned on his Twitter page.


"Something I've been able to do my entire life," Jones explained. "Just be athletic and big at the same time."