Jarvis Jones

OLB Jarvis Jones is a very intriguing prospect.  He began his career at USC, but ended up having to transfer because they wouldn’t clear him to play due to medical concerns.  Jones is from Georgia and decided to go back to his home state.  You know the SEC will clear anyone to play.  Does he have a pulse?

Jones was on the scout team in 2010 since he had to sit out a year.  He was then dominant in 2011 and 2012.  He led the nation in TFLs and was 2nd in sacks this past season.  In 2 years at UGA he totaled 44 TFLs (28 of them were sacks).  He also added 9 FFs, 5 pass deflections, and an INT.

The hype on Jones during the season was out of control.  Would he be the first defensive player taken or go #1 overall?  That seems to have died down as people evaluated the whole body of work in a more reasoned fashion.

Here are some of my notes on Jones:

Plays OLB. Lines up on both sides. Plays with good pad level. Good, but not great athlete. Quick, but not explosive. Lacks the great first step that dominant pass rushers have. Does a good job of extending his arms to he can engage the blocker aggressively. Has enough power to get some blockers off balance. Very good motor. Makes his share of pursuit plays. Had downfield FFs vs Florida and Missouri. Very effective with shoulder dip when taking hard outside rush vs OT. Able to get under and by him. Doesn’t have fluid hips. A bit stiff. Really good at chasing down the ball from behind. Rarely uses counter moves. Almost always attacks upfield. Dropped back into coverage vs Missouri and was able to pick off a pass and return it almost for a TD. Didn’t spend much time in coverage, but looked comfortable on short stuff. Had 7 FFs in 2012 and that’s not just luck. Uses a hard chop to knock the ball loose on some plays. Other times will rip and tug at the ball as he’s taking a player to the ground. Shows pretty good awareness on run plays. Under control enough to see the ball and contain or pursue. Isn’t an impact run defender. Able to hold his ground, but not overwhelm blockers and regularly disrupt run plays.

Jones will not be #1 overall.  It is highly unlikely he’ll be the first defensive player taken.  He was a great college player, but there are concerns about him as an NFL prospect.  A lot of people want to compare him to Von Miller.  No way.  Miller was a much better athlete.  He was more agile and explosive.  Jones is closer to David Pollak than Miller.

Jones lists at 6-3, 241.  UGA is usually pretty close with their numbers so that’s probably a good estimate.  Some scouts are concerned about arm length.  You prefer pass rushers to have long arms.  Jones looks to have short arms.  We’ll find out for sure at the Combine.

I do think Jones will be a starting 3-4 OLB and can be a good NFL player.  I do not think he’s an elite prospect or sure thing as some have made him out to be.  His grade will largely be effected by doctors.  NFL teams pick over prospects with a fine tooth comb.  If USC was willing to reject Jones, you can bet that not all 32 teams will give him passing grades medically.  It won’t surprise me if he’s pick 10, 20, or even 30.  I don’t see him falling out of the 1st round unless the medical stuff is really bad.

I’m sure some of you will wonder how such a productive SEC player could have some of the on-field concerns I’m talking about.  Posting great numbers in college doesn’t guarantee anything.  DeMarcus Ware had fewer sacks in 4 years than Jones in 2.  Ware was raw.  He also had the explosive first step.  He just needed coaching.  Jones has been at a pair of football powerhouses.  He’s had top weight training.  There isn’t as much development left for him.

It also helped that Jones played on a defense loaded with NFL talent.  Teams couldn’t focus all their resources on him.  Jones took advantage of the times he was single-blocked.  Some of his sacks were coverage sacks.  Sometimes he made hustle plays.

Watch the Missouri game and you’ll think Jones is worth #1.  He looked great.  Check out the South Carolina game and the SEC title game vs Alabama and you’ll see a much less disruptive player.  Still good, but not great.

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