This one would take some doing and would absolutely require trading up.
However, there are some concerns that could cause Jones to slide out of the top five.
First of all, Jones’ medical red flags are well documented. He suffers from spinal stenosis—according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, this means that he has a narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord. Since doctors at USC would not clear him to play, he transferred to Georgia.
Secondly, reports are surfacing that he lacks ideal size and weight to be a consistent force in run defense, in particular when it comes to using his hands to shed blocks.
Finally, he may not test out well at the combine due to his stature, which might push some teams who look for weight room warriors out of the Jones sweepstakes.
In my opinion, the number to watch for on draft day is eight. Specifically, the Steelers know that the New York Jets run a 3-4 defense as well and are picking at No. 9. Jones will likely not slide past them as they, too, are seeking a pass-rusher.
According to Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown, for the Steelers to move up from No. 17 to No. 8 would not require a Julio Jones or RGIII-type haul of draft picks. Buffalo might play ball with the Steelers for the right price, as they should look to stockpile picks in this draft.
The Steelers have moved up in the first round before when they found players that they coveted sliding toward them. Landing Troy Polamalu in 2003 required a jump from No. 27 to No. 16, while Casey Hampton and Santonio Holmes also became Steelers as a result of first-round trades.
If Jones gets past Arizona at No. 7, look for the Steelers to jump into the fray for this impact player.