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Five things to know about Andre Jones Jr.


The Washington Commanders finished up the 2023 NFL Draft by taking Louisiana defensive end Andre Jones Jr. with the No. 233 overall pick in the seventh round. Here are five things to know about Washington's final draft pick. 

1. He went from "non-factor" to perennial starter. 

Being a head coach can require telling some harsh truths from time to time, and Billy Napier was blunt when describing Jones back in 2021. 

"When we first got here, this guy couldn't even get on the field," Napier said. "He was a non-factor in year one … absolute non-factor." 

That is a tough, but accurate assessment of the start of Jones' college career. A two-star prospect who earned all-state honors with Varnado High School, Jones only played in 13 games with 13 tackles. While it was clear that Jones had plenty of athletic tools, learning the playbook was a problem for him. After two seasons of barely getting on the field, it was clear to him that changes needed to be made. 

"When I came back at the beginning of 2019, every day I was getting that playbook down," Jones said. "Even when we didn't have meetings, I was watching film getting it down pat. Basically, I held myself accountable." 

The change was a rapid one for Jones. He started nine games in 2019 and then became a full-time spot in the lineup the following season. He finished with top 10 numbers on the team in tackles, during that time, and with some help from his coaches, he was able to develop his game to the point where he was one of the Ragin' Cajuns' best defenders. 

By the time his career was over, Napier's opinion of Jones had gone through a dramatic change. 

"You talk about development, this guy might be one of the best examples of strength and conditioning, nutrition, mindset, fundamentals, the intangibles that's required to play on the line of scrimmage. I love Andre Jones."

2. He's coming off the best two seasons of his college career.

All that work Jones put into mastering the playbook and fine-tuning his skill set led to more opportunities, and with that came strides in his production that were hard to ignore.

Most of Jones' improvements came as a pass-rusher. Prior to the 2021 season, he had just three sacks in four seasons. But thanks to some tweaks to his footwork and technique, he easily surpassed that with six sacks in 2021 on top of posting a career-high 60 tackles.

The following season, Jones was just as productive as a pass-rusher with 6.5 sacks, but he also had a pass breakup, a forced fumble and an interception.

"He makes a lot of effort plays," Napier said. "I respect the guy because of his work ethic, his practice habits … just overall, the guy's a tough dude. He's absolutely what we're about. He's come a long way."

Jones still has a long way to go as a seventh-round pick, but it is encouraging to know that he is coming off a strong finish to his time with Louisiana.

3. He's the most experienced rookie in the Commanders' draft class.

If there's one common trait among the Commanders' draft picks, it's that they all had long college careers, and Jones fits right into that mold.

Jones spent six seasons with the Ragin' Cajuns and played a total of 65 games with 34 starts. By comparison, that's 30 more games than Emmanuel Forbes, 10 more than Quan Martin; 19 more than Ricky Stromberg; 16 more than Braden Daniels; seven more than KJ Henry; and 19 more than Chris Rodriguez Jr.

During that time, Jones received recognition for being one of the better defenders in his conference. He was a Third Team All-Sun Belt selection in 2021 for his jump in sack numbers, and in 2022 he was one of three linebackers to receive Second Team honors.

Finding a player with that much experience in the seventh round is uncommon, even if they need some developmental work. So, it makes sense that Washington felt comfortable enough to round out its class with him.

Check out some of the top photos from Andre Jones' college career at Louisiana.

4. He's another Ragin' Cajun to wear the Burgundy & Gold.

Washington has not dipped into the Ragin' Cajun talent pool often in its 90-year history; prior to Jones, there were only three drafted by the team. However, Jones is uniquely familiar with two of them.

The first is second-year safety Percy Butler, who Washington took with the No. 113 overall pick last year. Butler had a strong finale to his college career, finishing third on the team in tackles and earning a Second Team all-conference selection.

When asked about being reunited with Butler, Jones said "It's going to be turnt now."

"Not saying it wasn't turnt already, but you know, Ragin' Cajuns, we're a different breed."

The other is former running back and return specialist Brian Mitchell, who Jones said comes to the school every year. Obviously, he doesn't know Mitchell as well as Butler personally, but he is aware of the career Mitchell had for Louisiana (then known as Southwestern Louisiana). He became the first player in NCAA history to pass for more than 5,000 yards and rush more than 3,000 yards.

Jones sees Mitchell's success as something he would like to replicate.

"He's got his jersey retired so I'm trying to get my jersey retired just like his."

5. The coaches are excited to get him on the field.

The caveat of Jones, 24, having played more games than the rest of the Commanders' draft class is that he is a bit older, meaning that his professional career will get off to a later start than most. The Commanders considered that when they drafted him, but they were more concerned with how much potential he had to help the defensive front.

To sum it up, there's a lot of it.

"This guy has a lot of upside, a lot of developmental potential despite his age," said general manager Martin Mayhew. "So we're looking forward to working with him. He's got a lot of athleticism. He's got a great first step, he's got a lot of traits that you want."

As a seventh-round pick, Jones' role is more undefined than the rest of the Commanders' draft class. Obviously, he will fit somewhere on the depth chart at defensive end, but the question of where he falls, how much he will play and even whether he makes the roster is unanswered (to be fair, it should be noted that most of the seventh-round picks made under Ron Rivera’s tenure are still around in some capacity).

How that plays out for Jones is up to him and how he performs in OTAs and training camp. But there is certainly some excitement about his future.

"Andre Jones is just an explosive player," Rivera said. "We've gotta find a role for him and in talking with Jack \[Del Rio\] and seeing how positive our defensive coaches were about his potential as a playmaker... this is gonna be about a role and a fit as far as how we use him."

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