Georgia Football: Why Jarvis Jones Will Still Remain a Top 5 Pick in the Draft

Brian Jones@Brian_L_JonesContributor IFebruary 28, 2013

Feb 23, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA;  Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Jarvis Jones speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Jarvis Jones has been through this before.

The former Georgia Bulldogs linebacker did not take part in any of the combine drills, but he did talk to the media about his injury history.

Back in 2009, Jones, while playing for USC, suffered a stinger, after which is was discovered that he suffered from a condition called spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord.

The condition was serious enough that USC doctors would not clear him to return to the field. Because of that, Jones transferred to Georgia, where he was cleared by its team doctors and went on to became one of the premier outside linebackers in the country.

Based on his play alone, Jones is considered by many to be a top-five pick. Mel Kiper Jr. even had him on top of his big board.

But because of his condition and the fact he did not take part in the combine, teams seem to be starting to back off from Jones, at least when it comes to drafting him in the first round.

In his latest mock draft, Don Banks of CNN has Jones going to the Saints at No. 15. In his first mock draft that came out in late January, Banks had Jones at No. 5 to the Detroit Lions.

Jones’ condition is a concern because players who have the spinal stenosis can have either fully healthy careers or be forced to leave the game early.

In his two seasons at Georgia, Jones only missed two games. They came this past season and were caused by injuries not related to his spine.

In fact, when Jones was at the combine, doctors took a look at his spine and gave him a good report. So there are teams that may say they have taken Jones off the board, but once he takes part in his pro day, those teams will re-evaluate.

And even if that doesn’t happen, I don't think Jones is going to be left out of the top five. This year’s draft class is loaded with linebackers, but Jones is the one who is more NFL-ready than any of them. The way the NFL is going, teams need an edge rusher who can run from sideline to sideline, and Jones did that on a consistent basis the last two years.

Not only that, he played his best when the team needed him the most. Jones notched two sacks in the Missouri game, three sacks in the Florida game and, despite losing the SEC championship game to Alabama, Jones had six tackles and two sacks in that contest.

A lot can happen between now and the end of April. Jones may have fallen out of the first-round big board by a lot of teams that need an impact player. But anything is possible once draft weekend arrives. Jones is a difference-maker who has not had any issues with his spine the last four years.

If he is ignored by the Chiefs, Jaguars, Raiders, Eagles and Lions, who are the first five teams on the clock in the draft, they could look back on this year's draft and realize they passed on a player who changed the way the NFL looks at outside linebackers.