Seahawks Insider: Nazair Jones makes impressive first impression
RENTON – The Seahawks got a great contribution from their rookie defensive lineman in the preseason opener.
Just not the rookie that everyone was looking forward to seeing back during the draft.
Third-round pick Nazair Jones made an impression playing both defensive end and tackle for Seattle in its 41-17 win over the Chargers.
“Naz played very well,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We were really excited about him. He played end and a little bit inside. He showed good effort. He had a great play chasing the screen down that we really were fired up about because we are trying to teach him the effort that matches our style of play.”
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Jones was chosen 106th overall out of North Carolina, an afterthought on the second day of the draft last May. It was Malik McDowell – the Seahawks’ second-round pick – that drew most of the attention. McDowell was the first player the Seahawks picked in the draft, a guy who had been regarded as a potential top-10 pick before his junior season started in 2016 on his athletic potential.
McDowell was hurt in a vehicular crash in July, though, suffering multiple injuries, including one to his head. He is currently on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list and is not expected to be ready to play when the season begins in September. It’s uncertain whether McDowell will play at all this season.
While McDowell was seen as a versatile lineman capable of rushing the passer as a defensive tackle, Jones was characterized as a run-stuffing defensive tackle. The preseason opener showed that Jones might have the versatility to play defensive end, though, not as a pass-rusher per se, but as the big-bodied five-technique in the mold of Red Bryant, a starter in Seattle from 2010 through 2013.
“He’s very smart,” Carroll said of Jones, “and that was a great first impression for him to make for us. We have very high hopes we’re heading into the rest of the games. We’ll see how far we can take him.”