Jarvis Jones: How Will Pittsburgh's Newest OLB Fare in the Pros?
Having released James Harrison earlier this offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to draft a pass-rushing outside linebacker in the 2013 NFL draft. They may have found a perfect fit at the No. 17 overall pick with the selection of Georgia's Jarvis Jones.
Jones is a very good fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense as a pass-rushing outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense. Jones' skill set compares favorably to Harrison—while he does not have ideal size or speed for the position, he is an instinctive pass-rusher who uses his hands well around the edge, has a high motor, and has a knack for hitting hard and forcing fumbles.
The Steelers have had good success with shorter outside linebackers before in Harrison and LaMarr Woodley coming off the edge, and Jones may be more talented than either of them. He can be a three-down asset for the Steelers, as he is also very good at setting the edge and making stops in the backfield on run defense.
Given his lack of explosive athleticism, Jones is unlikely to match his gaudy production as a pass-rusher that he had at Georgia (44 tackles for loss, 28 sacks in past two seasons). That said, he should have a long NFL career and complement Woodley well assuming he can stay healthy, which has been a concern for him.
Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers were tied for 15th league-wide with 37 sacks, but they needed to add a spark to their pass rush this offseason, especially after releasing Harrison. Jones should be good for somewhere between six and 10 sacks in his rookie season, which could improve the value of the Steelers' defense in fantasy football.
Jones will have to compete with Jason Worilds for a starting outside linebacker spot opposite Woodley. He should have a good shot, as Worilds has failed to establish himself as a viable starting spot in three seasons since being a second-round selection in the 2010 NFL draft.
Even if Jones does not win the starting spot outright in his rookie season, he will certainly be an important part of the rotation, especially as a pass-rusher on passing downs.
The Steelers needed an outside linebacker badly, and Jones is a perfect fit for the Steelers' defensive scheme and philosophy. While he has some risks associated with him given his lack of explosive athleticism and medical history, he was a highly-productive collegiate player who can step in immediately as a starting outside linebacker, and help add a much-needed spark to the team's pass rush.
Jones is good value in the second half of Round 1, and he was widely mocked to the Steelers prior to the draft. He was an ideal selection for them in this draft class.
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