I wrote earlier this week that if I had my druthers I would take Texas’ Safety Kenny Vaccaro over Georgia Linebacker Jarvis Jones with pick 17 in the first round of the NFL Draft. The next day, I wrote about taking Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert if the Steelers were to go offense with the pick.
As it turned out last night in New York, the one team I thought would take Jones was New Orleans at 15 but they took Vaccaro instead. The pick for the Steelers therefore became Jones even though Eifert had slid down the board and was just begging for our selection.
In taking Jones, the nation’s most prolific pass-rusher the last two seasons, the Steelers are clearly looking to replace James Harrison and they are also looking to the future as well. Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau is well-known for not exactly throwing rookies into the fire in year one and I expect Jones’ situation to be no different.
The selection of Jones also sends a clear shot across the bow of Jason Worilds who the Steelers obviously feel is not up to the task of replacing Harrison long-term. By doing this, is Kevin Colbert also admitting that Worilds, a second round pick, was yet another poor draft selection?
Personally, I think Worilds has the chance to be a player if he stays healthy and much like Jones, he will have to work on playing the run.
I believe you’ll see Jones on the field in pass rushing situations only in year one which would be similar to what was done with LaMarr Woodley. In my study of Jones, I noticed that he very seldom dropped into coverage and that worries me going forward. If LeBeau allows him to just rush the passer and gives him few other responsibilities then I might really love this pick.
The problem is that LeBeau wants his outside ‘backers to be able to do more and I’m not convinced that Jones can.
The selection of the pass rushing monster is sure to be welcomed by the majority of the Steeler Nation and perhaps myself in time. I don’t think this is a bad pick by any stretch, I just think it is going to require patience. This is also a young man who is 24 years old and was once diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spine.
Jones played two full seasons at Georgia with no issues following the diagnosis at USC. My feeling on the medical issue is simple. If the Steelers medical staff had no issue then I don’t either.
I would have preferred offense, but I trust the Steelers have a solid game plan heading into day two of the draft to address an offense that sorely lacks play-makers. Believe me, I want nothing more than for Jarvis Jones to be the next in the great line of Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebackers.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.