Found March 21, 2013 on
SteelBlitz Steelers Blog:
The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to be taking a long look at linebacker and safety in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. With James Harrison no longer with the team and Larry Foote closing in on his 33rd birthday the Steelers need to find replacements and depth at outside and inside linebacker. Pittsburgh is also looking for at least one safety in the draft with Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark getting older and Clark entering the last year of his contract.
The top of the 2013 NFL Draft is full of solid pass rushing prospects and there have been a lot of rumors linking many of those players to the Steelers. It would make sense that if one of the top-tier pass rushers fall in the draft that the Steelers would be quick to fill out their draft card and make that player the next Pittsburgh Steeler.
One of the players that has been talked about as a potential candidate for the seventeenth pick in the draft is Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. Jones was very productive in college and dominated as a pass rusher over the past two seasons for the Bulldogs. There are concerns about Jones’ health because of a neck injury he suffered while he was a member of the USC Trojans.
He was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and the USC doctors would not clear him to play. Therefore, he transferred to Georgia where he was cleared to return to football. Jones went as far as to meet with multiple doctors prior to the combine to prove his health and some doctors believe that Jones may have been misdiagnosed with spinal stenosis in the first place.
Due to the fact that Jones was meeting with doctors and not training he did not feel that he was ready for the combine and decided to wait until his pro day to workout for NFL teams. However, according to NBC Sports Jones’ pro day workout was unimpressive; especially his slow forty yard dash time.
Jones ran a 4.9 forty yard dash which is surprisingly slow even for a larger outside linebacker. That time is slower than the time Manti Te’o ran (4.82) and Te’o has been marked way down by mock drafters for his slow time. The difference is that Te’o is an inside linebacker so his speed is more important, but a slow time still won’t help Jones’ attempt to get ranked higher on draft boards.
As NBC Sports mentions Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs also had a forty time in the 4.9 range, but he also ran at 260 pounds and Jones weighs in at 245. The tape on Jones is still very good and teams will have to decide if a slow forty time changes their mind about whether or not he can be a productive pro player.
ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay chimed in on Jones’ pro day. Kiper mentioned that he wasn’t a two-time All-American for nothing and McShay added that teams will have to answer the following question: “Do you throw out the 4.9 and go back to the tape and trust that he can do what you ask him to do?”
The Steelers will have to decide whether or not they are still interested in drafting Jones despite his slow forty yard dash time. Jones’ health concerns already dropped him out of the top five of the draft and his workout numbers will likely mean that he will be around when the Steelers make their first selection in the draft. The question now is do they think that Jones can be the player he was at Georgia in the NFL? And if not is there another outside linebacker worthy of the pick?
Other players the Steelers could target with their first pick in the draft are: Texas A&M outside linebacker Damontre Moore, Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, and Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert.
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