From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
Josh Jones/SS NC State – 6’1/3 220
– NFL frame with size and decent length (32 inch arms), looks the part
– Monster hitter who wants to throw his body into every blow, impact tackler who leaves his mark
– Shows ability to wrap-up in the open field when playing with proper technique
– Does well to close downhill in the alley against the run
– Above average athlete with straight-line speed
– Plays pocket well in man coverage with size/speed/length to combat throws downfield
– Experience playing deep half, in the box, and over the slot/Y
– Tested extremely well at the Combine
– Decent level of production, especially in his final season
– Leaving school as a junior and room to grow/improve
– Can be out of control as a tackler, lead with his shoulder too often, and play too recklessly, causing him to miss and run into his teammates
– Trouble reading his keys and can be late to find the football
– Has issue in press man coverage, biting on the stem of the receiver and allows space when WR changes directions
– May be just a box safety at the next level
– Career: 229 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 7 INTs, 3 FFs
– 2016: 109 tackle, 4 TFL, 3 INT
– Suspended for one game in 2014 by team for involvement in BB gun game with teammates off campus, no police charges were filed
– 95 tackles, 5 INTs as senior in high school, also served as team’s running back
The Steelers have shown interest in Jones and he’s drawn scouting comparisons to Mike Mitchell. Watching him play, it’s a valid comp. Jones flashes as a monster hitter with the desire to hurt everyone he comes in contact with. Sometimes that ends up being his own teammates…we’ll get to that.
But when he lines you up, look out. He’ll hit ya. But he can also wrap up and drive you into the ground. See a little of both here against this big Vanderbilt TE.
He can also cover tight ends downfield. I didn’t include a clip of him planting David Njoku along the sideline, but that’s definitely worth mentioning, because this clip of him carrying Njoku downfield and creating the incompletion was more important. Again, in that idea of using him as a hybrid player, at least in Year One, it could work.
But…he isn’t perfect. He has the tools to play in man coverage. The speed, the ability to play the pocket in man coverage, and the physicality. But he’s unrefined, remember, he’s a junior with just three years under his belt, and can be fooled by double-moves and nuances in the WR/TE stem. Off the line in OT against Clemson, Jordan Leggett – a guy he could cover at the next level – stems inside. Jones turns his hips that way and gives up outside leverage, allowing a ton of space when Leggett stems back outside on his flag route. If Deshaun Watson throws this ball, it’s a sure touchdown.
And his big hitting attitude inflicts as much pain on his teammates as he does the opposition. His angles need work and he has to play more controlled, throwing his shoulder into tackles less often and doing a better job of coming to balance.
It’s becoming clear the Steelers have interest in taking a safety high in this year’s draft though they’ve generally been more of the SS variety. Maybe that’s to find that hybrid guy, it’s hard to say for sure. Jones could be that guy and measures and profiles as the type of player they’d be interested in. A year one impact is possible but I think he’ll have his fair share of growing pains as he becomes a smarter, more refined, and controlled safety.
Projection: Early Day Two (Top 50 pick)
Games Watched: vs Notre Dame, at Clemson, vs Miami (FL), vs Vanderbilt