Two Falcons will play professional football after draft day

Chris+Jones+prepares+to+grab+the+football+in+the+Military+Bowl+this+past+fall.+Jones+was+drafted+by+the+Houston+Texans+on+Saturday.

Chris Jones prepares to grab the football in the Military Bowl this past fall. Jones was drafted by the Houston Texans on Saturday.

Sports Editor and Sports Editor

Chris Jones will continue to play football next season, but on Sundays instead of Saturdays.

Jones, a defensive tackle and defensive star for the Falcons this past fall, will be donning the color palette of the red, white and blue Houston Texans.

“It was crazy,” Jones said. “I was looking and I saw the Houston Texans were up, and we hadn’t really talked a lot before the pick, so I was just acting all nonchalantly. Then I looked at my phone and it started ringing, and I see ‘Houston Texans,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh,” … it was really cool.”

The Texans drafted Jones in the sixth round of the NFL draft Saturday, making Jones the first Falcon to be drafted since Kory Lichtensteiger was in 2007. Jones was the 198th overall pick.

Jones will join J.J. Watt on the Texans roster who this past season had 81 tackles, 20.5 sacks and four forced fumbles earning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. Watt could prove to be a mentor for Jones.

“It is definitely an honor to play with the defensive player of the year and to be on the same line,” Jones said. “To learn from him and his experiences and study the way he plays will be awesome. It’s really cool when you think about it, to see what he did last season and play right next to him.”

The draft was a historic one for the MAC as offensive tackle Eric Fisher from Central Michigan was the first MAC player to be drafted with the first overall pick.

Fisher and Jones haven’t faced each other since 2010 when Jones and BG came out on top 17-14.

This past fall, Jones had 42 tackles, 19 for losses and most notably 12.5 sacks. Jones, a tackle that plays in the middle of the defensive line, was the second best in the nation in his position. Jones was tied for ninth overall in sacks, ousted by linebackers and defensive ends, despite leading the country for three weeks straight earlier in the season. The defensive leader, at one point, had sacks in eight straight games. He was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year, and his sack total of 28 puts him second in BG history.

He was a key reason why the Falcons ended the year in the top 10 nationally in defense, as he finished his career playing in 50 consecutive games.

Jones was the 14th defensive tackle chosen and slid to the sixth round. His combine score of 55.3 could have had a factor.

“After watching the fourth round pass and then the fifth round was over, I was wondering, ‘is this going to happen?,’” Jones said. “And it happened. All the waiting, all the stress and it was all over.”

Teammate and offensive tackle Jordon Roussos wasn’t drafted but signed a contract with the Seattle Seahawks.

“I kind of expected going in that I’d probably end up in free agency but I kept my hopes up and thought I might get lucky.”

Seattle had a few picks left in the seventh round when it called Roussos and stated its intentions that it might draft him but if not they still wanted him, Roussos said.

“To get that call, I didn’t think I’d be as excited as I was, but it really hit me,” Roussos said. “I didn’t know what I was more excited for, me getting picked or Chris getting drafted.”

Roussos started 32 games for the Falcons, including all this past Fall. He and his offensive line allowed 15 sacks on the season and helped the offense average 153.4 rushing yards a game. Roussos was also named second-team All-MAC.

The two will join the ranks of Lichtensteiger who now plays for the Washington Redskins, Scott Mruczkowski of the San Diego Chargers and Shaun Suisham of the Pittsburgh Steelers as active Falcons in the NFL.

Recent BG stars of Omar Jacobs and Freddie Barnes didn’t find their fit in the NFL. Jacobs was drafted in the fifth round of the 2006 draft to the Steelers but was relegated to the practice squad. After unsuccessful spurts with the Eagles and Chiefs, Jacobs left the NFL having never played in a game. He most recently appeared for the Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Football League.

Barnes was not drafted due to concerns about his size despite being an All-American in 2010. He signed with the Bears but like Jacobs, he never saw game time and was relegated to the practice squad. Barnes is currently a free agent but most recently appeared for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. Barnes played in one game in 2011, and was released in January of 2012.

Up next for Jones and Roussos will be training camps for their respective teams and then preseason in August.