Saturday, June 07, 2014

What did the Steelers see in Jarvis Jones?

Last year, his first in the NFL, rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones accomplished little and showed less.

It makes you wonder what the Steelers saw in him. They didn't meet with him at the NFL Combine, and when his Pro Day came up at the University of Georgia, he ran an abysmal 4.92 40-yard dash. Still, the Steelers made him their No. 1 draft pick (No. 17 overall).

Jarvis Jones, No. 95
Last year, Jones showed basically one pass-rush move. He couldn't bull-rush many blockers. He didn't hold the edge consistently on run plays, and he had trouble shedding blocks. He struggles with outside contain. He's not especially strong. And he's slow.

Seriously, what did the Steelers see in this guy? Last year, Jarvis Jones showed so little he might as well have been Landry Jones.

Let's hope he's better this year. To be fair, the Steelers' defense is notoriously difficult for rookies to learn. He says the game has slowed for him now that has a full NFL season under his belt, and we hope so. Steeler Nation is counting on him, although today's depth chart lists nondescript veteran backup Chris Carter as the starter at left outside linebacker, with Jones as the backup to Jason Worilds on the right side.

Most people expect Jones will be handed a starting job, much like Mike Adams was handed the starting left tackle job last summer.  A first-rounder should be making an impact by the time his second year starts. Let's hope Jones justifies the investment the Steelers have made in him.

We hope he succeeds, but if he falls flat this year, well, it makes you wonder what the Steelers were thinking when they drafted him instead of a couple of other players still on the board.

Eric Reid, rookie Pro Bowler, drafted No. 18 overall
in 2013, one pick after Jarvis Jones
LSU safety Eric Reid went to San Francisco with the very next pick (No. 17 overall), and Reid made the Pro Bowl his rookie season. Reid had 77 tackles, 11 breakups, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Jones was in on 40 tackles and one sack.

Two picks after Reid, the Bears selected guard Kyle Long, and he went to the Pro Bowl. Tight end Tyler Eiffert was on the board, too, and he went to Cincinnati with pick No. 21.

Considering Reid went to the Pro Bowl, however, and was selected immediately after Jones ... well, if Jarvis Jones doesn't pick up his game early this season, Steeler Nation may be clamoring for Howard Jones at linebacker instead of Jarvis Jones.

NFL teams cannot miss on No. 1 draft choices. It's too soon to put the "bust" label on Jones, but the pressure will be on him this year.

It may be early, but it's later than you might think.

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