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The Pittsburgh Steelers already had a need to improve their pass rush before releasing starting outside linebacker James Harrison prior to the start of free agency. The Steelers have not signed anyone to replace Harrison, and even if the Steelers expect Jason Worilds to take Harrison’s role, they should be in the market for a pass-rushing upgrade at the No. 17 overall pick.
Georgia’s Jarvis Jones could very well be a top-15 draft choice, but with a significant medical red flag surrounding his spinal stenosis and coming off of a disappointing pro day, his stock is declining. If he is available at No. 17, he would be a perfect fit to take over Harrison’s role and add a much-needed spark to the Steelers pass rush.
Jones fits the Steeler mold for a pass-rushing outside linebacker that has been defined by Harrison and LaMarr Woodley in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense in recent years. He does not have great measurables in terms of size or athleticism, but he is a skilled power rusher who has great snap anticipation, uses his hands well and is quick in space.
Jones can be a three-down asset as both a pass-rusher and run defender, and would be an upgrade over Worilds, who has been a disappointment through his first three NFL seasons.
Jones is even drawing comparisons to Harrison, including from Bleacher Report NFL draft lead writer, Matt Miller.
Jones could end up going earlier, with the New York Jets at No. 9 overall and New Orleans Saints at No. 15 being other potential fits, but if he falls to the second half of the first round, the Steelers shouldn’t pass up taking a chance on him, especially now that Harrison is no longer in the fold.