As expected, people are already speculating how the Pittsburgh Steelers will use outside linebacker Jarvis Jones on defense during his rookie season. For those of you that think Jones will see the field much on defense baring an injury, shame on you, as it is well known that rookie linebackers in Pittsburgh not named Kendrell Bell generally only play on special teams. If they are ready to see a little action by the end of the season or late in blowouts, consider that a blessing.
Many speculate that because Jones played in a 3-4 defense at Georgia that he will have no problems adapting to the Steelers defense, but the first-round draft pick admitted earlier this week in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he needs to still work on becoming a complete player. When asked what specific area of his game that he had been told by scouts and coaches that he needs to work on the most, Jones said dropping into coverage.
“First and foremost, I\’ve got to work on my craft throughout my game to continue to be a complete player,” said Jones. “Most of all, people in college, all they\’ve seen me do is pass rush, so I\’ve got to get more comfortable and I\’ve got to just keep pressing, and working on dropping back in coverage, because I wasn\’t asked to do that a lot in college. So that\’s one of the areas that people were kind of concerned about that I was hearing around the combine – that nobody was really seeing me drop in coverage. I actually dropped a little bit, and when I did, I think I did a pretty good job.”
Jones, as he mentioned, dropped very little while at Georgia. To think that he has a grasp of the angles and where to be in the seam and out in flat would be foolish to expect during his rookie year in the Dick LeBeau defense. As far as the rest of his game goes, Jones told the truth when he said that all he really has done up until this point is rush the passer. He needs to learn how to better take on run blocks and control the edge as these flaws show up easily on tape.
So what are the expectations for Jones in 2013? He\’ll play on special teams for starters and hopefully will get a lot of playing time during the preseason. Baring an injury to Jason Worilds or LaMarr Woodley, I would be surprised if he plays 100 snaps on defense this upcoming season and especially not in the nickel.