It's very rare that a defensive player is selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, but if there's one guy who could do it in 2013, it's Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
Jones has been a spectacular pass-rusher for the Bulldogs throughout his career there and has made it official that he'll be entering the 2013 NFL Draft following the second straight season he's been named to the AP All-American Team.
Jones is fully expected to be a top 10 pick in April's draft, but there are some red-flag issues that could push his draft stock down towards the Steelers. We'll get to those issues in a little, but first let's break down Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
Name: Jarvis Jones
Draft Projection: Top 10
NFL Comparison: Von Miller
- Exceptional explosion and a high motor. Goes hard on every single play.
- Very athletic within the confined area of the pocket. Can move in short bursts and cut, change direction on a dime.
- Good combination of size, power and speed for the next level.
- More than just a pass-rusher. Plays the run better than any other rushing OLB in the class.
- Disciplined with his assignments and owns above-average play recognition skills.
- Versatile to play OLB in either 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.
- Never gives up on plays.
- Shorter arms could make it more difficult against some of the league's best tackles and can hurt draft stock (ex: Courtney Upshaw, 2012).
- Doesn't play much with his hand on the ground. Strictly a stand-up linebacker.
- Has a medical condition called "spinal stenosis" and left USC as a freshman after not being cleared by their medical staff. Could affect the longevity of his NFL career and push him down draft boards.
- Provides a lot of speed off the edge of the defensive front.
- Great bend and can get the corner on opposing tackles (think James Harrison in his prime).
- Nicely developed spin move.
- Versatile enough to rush from both outside and inside linebacker positions.
- Highly-instinctual pass-rusher. Can time the opposing snap count and blitz from anywhere on the field.
- Very good in zone-blitz schemes (same schemes Steelers run defensively).
- Hardly ever overpowered by opposing linemen.
- Rare blend of speed and strength rushing qualities.
- 28 sacks and nine forced fumbles in the last two seasons with Georgia.
- Short arms could get him in trouble at the next level, especially against lengthy tackles.
- Needs to use his hands better at the next level. No real rip or swim moves to speak of.
- Can get caught too far outside on some edge rushes.
Against the Run
- Willing and talented run defender. Totaled 161 tackles in the last two seasons.
- Uses speed to make a ton of plays from the backside.
- Impressive read-and-react skills.
- Sound tackler. Physical at the point of attack and has great leg drive.
- Over-aggressive at times and can over-pursue on plays.
- Can get washed down by bigger offensive linemen.
- Loses leverage often when attempting to look for the back in the backfield.
Against the Pass
- Good ball skills for a player who is primarily a pass-rusher.
- Has the ability to drop into zone coverages and expand the capabilities of any defense.
- Very instinctual and can read the quarterback's eyes.
- Never going to cover well in man-to-man situations.
- Not a lot of experience in coverage. Hardly asked to drop back at UGA
- Only one career INT at the college level.
I'll start by saying this and I think at this point it's pretty obvious, but it is highly unlikely that Jones will be available for the Steelers when they make their selection in April's draft. But there are a few factors that could push the Georgia stand-out down a few teams' draft boards.
For starters, the serious injury he suffered during his freshman season at USC could draw some red flags from teams drafting in the top 10. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal in the back that can cause certain restrictions to movement and some neurological defects. It is a problem Jones will deal with throughout his playing career and, more importantly, his life. He didn't pass the USC physical following the injury, causing him to transfer to Georgia. If teams find a problem with Jones' back, it could cause him to fall down draft boards.
Also, when you take a look at the 2013 class of pass-rushers and outside linebackers, there is some serious talent to be gobbled up. Players like Bjoern Werner, Dion Jordan and Damontre Moore could all push Jones for the top defender in this year's class with good combines and pro days.
But in all reality, I fully expect that Jones will most likely be the first defensive player off the board in 2013. He's the best all-around linebacker in the draft and is by far the best player against the run. It only takes one team to fall in love with a player in the draft and I'm sure someone will fall in love with Jones.
He would be a nice fit in the Steelers' defensive scheme, however. Georgia currently runs a 3-4 scheme that's comparable to what Dick LeBeau and the Steelers employ. Jones' versatility adds a lot to any defense he'd be installed into. He possesses the ability to play both inside and outside and can rush from just about anywhere on the field.
I think Jones grades out very well in comparison to the No. 2 overall pick from just two years ago. Von Miller has been a force for the Broncos and, schematically, he and Jones are virtually the same player. Miller stands about an inch taller than Jones while Jones has about five pounds on the Broncos' star pass-rusher. Both guys possess high motors and have an impressive ability to get to the quarterback.
As I pointed out, it's highly unlikely that Jones would be available for the Steelers in the first round, but he'll most certainly be high on their draft board. He possesses a lot of the qualities the Steelers look for in a pass-rusher and his instincts could bring a new presence to the field. If by some small miracle Jones is available at No. 17, I don't think the Steelers could pass him up.