The Pittsburgh Steelers to this point have had more safeties on their radar than cornerbacks which seems a bit surprising. One of those safeties is NC State’s Josh Jones who offers a very unique skill-set.
Josh Jones, S, NC State
6’2″ 220 lbs
Key Combine Stats: 4.41 forty, 37.5″ vertical, 20 reps at 225 lbs
2016 Stats: 109 tackles, three interceptions, eight pass breakups
What’s to Like: Big frame and looks lanky on tape but he’s a well-built guy… Plays close to the line of scrimmage or can play centerfield… Good tackler who brings aggression to each takedown and rarely lets a guy get away from him… Has experience in both zone and man-to-man coverages… Has no problem sliding into a linebacker spot and plays the run well from the position… Has the ability to run down ball carriers from behind.
What’s Concerning: Can be a little slow in reacting to the play especially if it’s play-action… Kind of stiff in his hips and upper body… Aggressive tackling style can sometimes be a negative because he can’t throttle down… Love of big hit can be a negative… Has to be more disciplined on pursuit angles as well as in coverage… Too easily blocked at times; needs to work harder to get loose… Blindly leads with his shoulder sometimes leading to missed tackles.
The Verdict: Jones is very easy to like and I do. He has really good size and very good speed. He closes on receivers well and brings a serious thud with him. His versatility as a safety is off the charts because he has shown the ability to play well from just about anywhere on the defense. It is very easy to see why the Steelers like him but my question is where do you utilize him? Sean Davis seems entrenched and Mike Mitchell, although there are negatives, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for next season at least. I can see Jones going in the third or even second round to a team desperate for such a player. If he can learn to tackle more consistently and resist the urge to go for the knockout as often as he does he could become a really good player in the NFL.
Photo courtesy: NC State Rivals
Video courtesy: Draftbreakdown.com/youtube.com