ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Over the final stretch of the 2020 season, no Broncos pass-rusher was more productive than Dre'Mont Jones.
Bradley Chubb earned a Pro Bowl nod and Malik Reed led the Broncos with eight sacks on the season, but Jones' 3.5 sacks over the final four weeks paced the Broncos' pass rush.
All 6.5 of the 2019 third-round pick's sacks came over the final 11 games of the season, and the success coincided with an increase in playing time. After playing fewer than half of the team's snaps in the first two weeks and then spending three weeks on injured reserve, Jones played at least 58 percent of the team's snaps in every remaining game. In five of those 11 games, he was on the field for at least 72 percent of the snaps.
And as Jones carved out a starting role as a second-year player, he found his comfort zone. It didn't take long til that led to a consistent pass rush from the Ohio State product.
"Nothing really changed," Jones said Wednesday of his late-season success. "It's more about getting into a rhythm. Football and basketball go hand in hand where you've got to get into a rhythm and get a feel for the game. The more I was able to play toward the end, the more I feel comfortable getting out there and just trying different pass-rush moves."
As Jones prepares to enter his third season in the NFL, his goals extend beyond the 6.5 sacks he posted in 2020 or the 3.5 he tallied as a rookie.
With Bradley Chubb and Von Miller expected to serve as the team's outside rushers, Jones could be free to make a more substantial impact as an interior rusher. As Jones noted Wednesday, there are several Pro Bowlers and All-Pros around the NFL that have proven the value of a strong interior rusher.
Jones' sack goal for 2021 should put his name in the conversation with that caliber of player.
"I think 10 sacks is very attainable," Jones said. "Guys like Chris Jones and Grady Jarrett and Cam Heward and Aaron Donald made it cool to be an inside guy and get 10 sacks. It's very attainable."
Jones said that while some of those players' moves are "a little bit too freaky" to mimic, he's studied film from some of the best pass-rushers to implement in his own game.
"You can't do everything they do, but you try to take some pieces of what they do and make it into your own and try to pull it into your own athletic ability," Jones said.
A new-look frame could also help Jones as he targets double-digit sacks. Jones joked that he "became a man more" in the offseason as he "really honed in" with a trainer in the weight room to transform his body. He remains close to his playing weight of 280-285, but added muscle should help fight off opposing guards or centers as he rushes.
Should Jones mesh his experience with that film study and offseason of physical work, he could be poised to reach his double-digit goal. In turn, he'd do more than just set a new high-water mark. Jones would identify himself as the latest dominant young player on the Broncos' defense, joining players like Chubb and Justin Simmons.
"I don't expect anything less for myself," Jones said of reaching 10 sacks. "I think that's a goal of mine I can reach. I'm going to try to reach it."