Depth at linebacker was a problem in 2013 for the Falcons until Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow got up to speed. Florida State’s Christian Jones is the kind of defender Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan loves for his linebacker roles.
Christian Jones will be working out with the Atlanta Falcons today.— Logan Robinson (@LogansTwitty) March 20, 2014
Logan Robinson—a Florida State football game-day admin and video producer—reported that Jones had a meeting scheduled with the Falcons on March 20, 2014. It makes a ton of sense for the Falcons to show interest in the Seminoles defender.
Florida State University
Height: 6'3.125"; Weight: 240 pounds
Arm Length: 33.5"; Hand Measurement: 9.625"
40-yard dash: 4.74 sec.; 10-yard split: 1.60 sec.
Vertical Jump: 33.5"; Broad Jump: 9'7"
2013: 13 Games Played, 56 Tackles, 8.0 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 6 QB Hurries, 1 Interception
2012: 14 Games Played, 95 Tackles, 7.0 Tackles for Loss, 1 QB Hurry, 2 Fumbles Recovered, 3 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown
2011: 13 Games Played, 56 Tackles, 6.0 Tackles for Loss, 3.0 Sacks, 1 QB Hurry, 2 Fumbles Forced, 3 Pass Deflections
2010: 14 Games Played, 13 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 1 Pass Deflection
Jones has great athleticism for an off-ball linebacker. He plays downhill very well and is extremely agile sideline to sideline. He understands the basics in coverage and plays it effectively, as he has very fluid hips.
He’s also very instinctual and understands how to hold backside contain on run plays. He’s a good pass-rusher who uses his hands effectively and maximizes his length. On top of all of this, he’s versatile and can play any linebacker position in any defense.
Consistency in all facets of the game is a huge worry for Jones at this time. Some plays, he looks like he’s completely unstoppable. Some plays, he looks like he’s going to pick grass out of his facemask for a week because the offensive lineman just owned him.
He’s going to have to rectify this by playing much tougher than he currently does. He could also use a couple of more pass-rush moves, as he doesn’t have the ability to bend around the edge the way John Abraham or Robert Quinn are able to.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Jones was a captain his senior year for the Seminoles and shows his leadership on the field. He’s also got excellent bloodlines, as his father, Willie Jones, is in the Florida State football Hall of Fame. However, he was suspended for the Bethune-Cookman game, according to an ESPN.com report.
Depending on the rule he violated, he could wind up completely off the board. The Falcons will be doing their due diligence into Jones, and this could be a part of that. If they feel the issue is correctable or a non-issue, expect Jones to maintain a spot on the board.
Jones is a linebacker who can fit in either the 3-4 or the 4-3 at any spot. He’s got leadership that the Falcons tend to love in a player. He’s also extremely versatile. But most importantly, he has the talent in coverage to take on some of the better tight ends in the game.
And at 6’3", 240 pounds, he has the size to jam up guys like Jimmy Graham at the line. Once he gets completely ingrained in the NFL, he would be best in the role that Sean Weatherspoon played in 2012 as an inside linebacker in three-man fronts and outside linebacker in four-man fronts.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
The Falcons would have to take Jones with their third-round pick if they wanted to procure his services. He’s going to play mainly inside linebacker in 3-4 schemes, and Atlanta could use a guy who can stack and shed the way that he does.
However, with Worrilow manning one spot and Weatherspoon manning the other, Atlanta would likely use Jones on the outside for some plays just to get him on the field. Jones’ worst-case scenario is he is a reserve for a season. Then the Falcons could let Weatherspoon go in order to start Jones and Worrilow inside.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.