Late in the Hall of Fame Game, NBC was doing everything they could do to fill the airtime with something of interest. And more often than not, that meant ignoring what was happening on the field, as the Broncos and Falcons traded punts and Walt Anderson threw flag after flag.
Instead, the network paraded a series of guests through the booth for interviews. This included John Elway, who provided his thoughts on Pat Bowlen, Drew Lock and various other topics. And it concluded with Dick Ebersol, the long-time sports television executive who worked with Bowlen to create “Sunday Night Football” and other properties that helped the NFL grow into the behemoth it is today.
While Ebersol was answering questions from Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, something of interest happened during the game, however. It was so notable that the crew wound back the tape, took note of what happened and provided an update upon returning from commercial break.
During the interview, Dre’Mont Jones made a pair of huge plays for the Broncos defense. He knifed through the offensive line on two occasions, making a tackle for a loss on one play and pressuring the quarterback on another.
They were splashy plays for the third-round pick out of Ohio State. He jumped off the screen, popping up as a big-time player during a time when most people were no longer paying attention to the game.
Collinsworth was so impressed that he compared Jones to Malik Jackson, suggesting that the rookie could provide the kind of inside pass rush that the former Broncos defensive tackle did during the team’s Super Bowl 50 run. Rather than simply occupy space and blockers, Jones could be a playmaker in the middle of the defensive line.
That’d be huge for Denver, as they haven’t been able to get that kind of play since Jackson left for Jacksonville via free agency. It’s certainly what the Broncos were hoping for when they selected Jones in April.
Granted, the impressive plays were made against backups and guys who will be selling insurance in three weeks. But they were a solid first step; great players should stand out in that type of a situation, which Jones certainly did.
On a night when other draft picks struggled, Dre’Mont Jones provided a bright spot. He’s a rookie who looked ready for primetime on Thursday night.