The Rams used their second selection in the 2021 NFL Draft on South Carolina linebacker Ernest Jones, who was chosen in the third round, 103rd overall.
Here's what you should know about him:
1) Vocal leader
Jones was widely regarded as the heart and soul of the Gamecocks' defense, as well as a vocal leader.
According to The Big Spur, when South Carolina lost three of its five permanent captains after the 2019 season, Jones didn't flinch and said "this is my defense." He was later named one of four permanent team captains for the 2020 season.
The opinion of Rams running backs coach and associate head coach Thomas Brown, who coached the same position at South Carolina during Jones' 2019 junior season, only further reinforced those traits. General manager Les Snead said last Friday that Jones was the No.1-rated leader among the prospects they evaluated.
2) Making his home county proud
According to the Florida Times-Union, Jones' selection last Friday made him the highest-drafted player out of Ware County (Ga.) since Leodis McKelvin going No. 11 overall to the Buffalo Bills in 2008.
3) One-man wrecking crew
It is already well-established that Jones led the Gamecocks in tackles for two straight years (2019 and 2020), but perhaps the best way to contextualize what he meant to the defense – next to his leadership – was how his production over that span compared to the rest of his teammates.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Jones accounted for 12.3% of the Gamecocks' tackles over his final two seasons – no other player had more than 10%. His 10.5 tackles for loss during that span were second-most.
4) Almost made program history twice
Jones had one historic accomplishment in a single game, and nearly accomplished one for a single season.
His 19 total tackles in South Carolina's game against LSU last year were most by a Gamecock defender in a single game since 1987, per that same article from The Charlotte Observer.
He was also on a 12-game pace to log 114 total tackles, which would have been most in one season for a South Carolina defensive player since 2002.
5) Player comparison
NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein chose current Rams linebacker Micah Kiser. It's an apt one, as Kiser was also a tackling machine in college – he became just the second player in ACC history to lead the conference in tackles for three straight seasons, joining Luke Kuechly, and finished fifth in program history with 411 for his career.
Take a look at photos of inside linebacker Ernest Jones from his time at South Carolina.