The NFL is filled with some of the biggest, fastest, and strongest athletes in the world. However, most do not encompass all of these traits, which makes the sport, and draft process, so fascinating (insert photo of DK Metcalf compared to Hunter Renfrow from the 2019 draft). And sometimes, NFL teams are really just looking for one trait to address a team need.
For Miami Hurricane defensive tackle, Jonathan Ford, that one trait is his size. Ford could be a useful nose tackle for many franchises but his story is more than just being that big boy up front.
Below is more about the South Florida native and his journey to the NFL Draft.
DT Jonathan Ford Draft Snapshot:
2022 NFL Draft Ranking* - 25th EDGE
(Position Ranking based on The Athletic, Dane Brugler, 2022 Draft Guide)*
Height: 6’5” (93rd Percentile)
Weight: 333lbs (93rd Percentile)
Arm Length: 32 3/4” (34th Percentile)
Wingspan: 79 5/8” (47th Percentile)
Hand: 9 1/4” (10th Percentile)
2017: 7GP, 1 tackle
2018: 10GP, 8 Tackles, 2.0 TFLs
2019: 13GP/13GS, 18 Tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 3.0 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 PD
2020: 10GP/9GS, 19 Tackles, 1.5 TFL
2021: 10GP/8GS, 14 Tackles, 1 TFL
CAREER: 60 Tackles, 8.0 TFLs, 3.0 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 PD
Miami Hurricanes DT Jonathan Ford is coming into the NFL scouting combine motivated. Would love to see what he can do playing the nose in a 3-4 defense. pic.twitter.com/O1WI5Jtjv2— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) March 4, 2022
Pro Football Focus (PFF) Grades
- Overall 2017 PFF Grade: 55.9
- Overall 2018 PFF Grade: 67.9
- Overall 2019 PFF Grade: 62.1
- Overall 2020 PFF Grade: 58.0
- Overall 2021 PFF Grade: 59.8, (65.6 Run Defense, 57.4 Pass Rush, 60.0 Coverage) 325 DLine
Pro Day Results:
40-Yard Dash: 5.47 (3rd Percentile)
Bench: 24 reps (26th Percentile)
Shuttle: 5.00 (3rd Percentile)
Vertical Jump: 29” (46th Percentile)
Broad Jump: 8’6” (29th Percentile)
Built Ford Tough
Ford, originally from Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, joined Miami in 2017, fulfilling a life long dream to play for the Hurricanes and in spite of offers from numerous schools such as Ohio State and USC. In his recruitment process, Ford was a three-star defensive tackle at 6’5” and 275 pounds.
Upon his arrival at the U, and over his five-year tenure, Ford packed on useful pounds as he currently weighs over 330 pounds. Ford patiently awaited his opportunity in his first two seasons, as he played a rotational role behind Gerald Willis III, RJ McIntosh, and Kendrick Norton. This development time allowed Ford to work on his strength and learn from veterans.
The next great DL out of Miami. Meet the newest Cane, SDE Jonathan Ford. Welcome to the "U"! Welcome to our family! pic.twitter.com/XRvZitlRp3— TheCaneReport (@CaneReport) January 31, 2016
By his third year, Ford was a full-time and he had arguably his most productive season tallying 18 Tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 3.0 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 PD. The 3.0 sacks were the only of his career. He tallied another 33 tackles in his final two seasons, and Ford proved his motor as he was durable his whole career, playing over 350 snaps this final season. He also offered leadership for five-star freshman, Leonard Taylor.
Ford opted out of the Bowl Game, but stood out to some scouts at the NFLPA Senior Bowl, and then earned one of only four Hurricane spots at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Can’t Teach Size and Ford is Space Eater
Ford’s biggest point of emphasis during the draft process will be that he is 6’5”, 333 pounds, a size that simply cannot be taught (checked in near the 90th percentile and above among defensive tackles for height, weight, and arm length). NFL teams would love to have that frame at nose tackle. That being said, his conditioning will be highly vetted in order to ensure he can hold his own under tougher circumstances (he was durable throughout his career and was not any type of snap limit playing in hot and humid Miami).
DT Jonathan Ford will meet with the Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders, and Carolina Panthers ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.— Cal Friedman (@friedman_cal) March 30, 2022
Ford: "Teams love my size and the way I move. One thing I like about myself is my movement." pic.twitter.com/1MzROzh9wd
Ford’s production, especially as a pass rusher, will also raise some questions as he only had three sacks during his career (all in 2019), and eight TFLs over a five-year career. While he is physical and can engage with anyone due to his size, he can get a bit lazy in technique/footwork likely due to lack of quickness/athleticism, as he does not necessarily quit on plays. Ford could also improve his tackling. He would most benefit as a pure nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme and has a decent enough first move with strong hands but will need refinement in other areas at the next level.
There is something to be said with the fact that Ford got an invite to the NFL Combine and has had visits with the Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders, and Carolina Panthers, and could be helpful for teams that just need bodies due to injuries. Lastly, he offers some special teams experience so is willing to do the dirty work.
- Space Eater (6’5”, 333lbs)
- Special Teams Experience (Punt Return and FG/XP Team)
- Quick First Step for his size
- Durable, no injury issues
- Below average speed/athleticism
- Limited production, especially in pass rush
- Decent tackler but could use some refinement
- One-trick pony: Nose Tackle
Best NFL Fits (UDFA): Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs,
NFL Comparisons: Marvin Wilson, RJ McIntosh
While Ford’s production was not ideal - all three sacks of his career came in 2019 - he has something you absolutely cannot teach: Size. the 6-5, 330 pound interior defensive lineman can be an absolute space eater in the middle. If he can show he has the NFL level conditioning, he may be a sneaky pickup for teams that need bodies (which is becoming more apparent in this COVID age football).
Draft Night Projection: (UDFA)
UDFA to Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid and the Chiefs franchise is willing to take risks on players who may not be an ideal candidate, but have outlier-type traits worth seeing what they can offer. Ford could be just that due to his alluring size. At the least, Reid is vocal about devouring cheeseburgers so him and Ford could have an eating contest.