Throughout this past season, Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones (6′ 3″, 241 lbs.) played like one of the best defensive players in the nation, and the second best linebacker behind Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o. After the Missouri game, he was even considered a Heisman candidate. Jones, who originally played for USC before transferring to play for Mark Richt and the Bulldogs, put up 14.5 sacks, 85 tackles, 24 tackles-for-loss, 1 interception, 7 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries in 12 games.
Now, he has declared and is preparing for the NFL Draft, and I will be evaluating him. My evaluation will consist of these criteria: Agility, Bull Rush, Speed Rush, Run Defense, Speed/Burst, Strength, Tackle, Read and React, and Health.
Jones is not a linebacker with any lack of agility. Georgia ran a 3-4 defense with Jones up on the line as a pass rusher, like the Denver Broncos do with Von Miller. On the line, they run quite a few stunts with Jones darting inside and a lineman going to the outside to replace him. When I played football, we ran a 4-3, but we called this an “Exit” stunt. Jones uses the flexibility that he has been gifted in his hips to turn and get inside quickly and challenge the guard or center that has to block him. This can be see throughout his tapes, but the best example is at 7:41 of the Florida game where Jones darts inside and sacks Jeff Driskel. 9.0/10.00
Jones, as a pass rusher, uses his bull rush more than I would like. I would love to see him get around the 300+ lb. offensive tackles rather than turn and take them head on. While this sometimes can be effective, most of the time, since he is not the largest or strongest linebacker out there, it just results in a stalemate at the line and Jones ends up missing the play. He has a decent bull rush, but he’s going to have to get a lot stronger for bull rushes to work in the NFL. 8.5/10.0
Jones is very fast and this is evident with his speed rush. His speed is not apparent with his 40 time of 4.74, but when he gets an edge and gets around a tackle, there are few quarterbacks that can escape the claws of Jarvis Jones. As I stated above, Jones doesn’t use his speed rush as much as I’d like to see, and if he can start to use it more, and maybe improve on it a little bit, then he could be a great NFL linebacker. That being said, there are times when Jones uses his speed rush but gets strung out by the offensive tackle and ends up completely out of the play far away from the quarterback or any other player for that matter. 8.5/10.0
Jones is a solid tackler, which helps him a ton in run defense, since he is not the best at reading and reacting to plays (I will get into that later). Jones was helped a ton by teams realizing that he was a damn good linebacker and running to the other side of the formation than Jones was lined up on. That strategy was used in the SEC Championship by Alabama and it worked for them, the Tide ran 51 times for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns. But I also saw some missed tackles (some due to poor form, usually not wrapping up) by Jones in that game and there were plays throughout Jones’ tapes where once the ball carrier got past him, he would give up on the play and leave it to his teammates to make the tackle. That would be a big minus if I were a NFL team. But there were also plays where the opposite. (This play I am about to mention is a pass play, and I realize I am in the running section, but it best exemplifies what I am talking about) At 10:02 of the Florida tape, Jeff Driskel completes a pass to tight end Jordan Reed but Jones chases the guy down and forces a fumble right before Reed would have crossed the goal line. And, I’ll summarize this giant paragraph here. Jones is a decent run defender, but his role in the NFL will be as a 3-4 OLB pass rusher, and his run defense now is about as good as it needs to be. 8.5/10.0
Jones has deceiving speed. As I stated earlier, on tape, Jones looks very fast, but his recorded 40 time is only a 4.74. His burst is best seen in the Florida play I mentioned in the “Agility” section. He has an explosive burst that I like a ton. He gets across the line very quickly and then his speed kicks in. All in all, I really like Jones’ speed and burst. 9.0/10.0
I said this earlier in one of the sections, Jones is not one of the strongest linebackers that is in this, or any other year’s for that matter, draft. He’s not a linebacker that overpowers offensive linemen, but he’s strong enough that o-linemen cannot move him, and that helps him a ton. When he uses rip moves or any other strength based move to get around linemen, then he uses the strength that he has to get around the linemen and to the quarterback or running back.I think some time in the weight room and some protein shakes could help this kid a ton as he moves on to the pros. 8.5/10.0
Jones is a pretty solid tackler most of the time that he is on the field. The SEC Championship this past season serves as an exemption (but it basically does for every part of Jones’ game. I bet that’s not a game he wants to remember). There were very few tackles that I saw him miss outside of the championship game, and that is something that NFL teams will love to see out of him. 9.0/10.0
READ AND REACT:
I believe that Jones reads plays very quickly, but for some reason it takes him a while to react to plays. There were times where I would be yelling at the tape for him to react to the play and get to the ball carrier. He reacts faster on pass plays than rushes, but he will need to get faster at both if he wants to be really successful at the next level. 8.5/10.0
This is my major area of concern with Jarvis Jones. Jones transferred from USC because the Trojan’s doctors said he should quit football because of spinal stenosis, a neck injury he suffered against Oregon his freshman year. This past season, Jones missed two games because of various injuries to his ankle, groin, and shoulder. Jones is still a sure-fire first rounder, but his injuries concern me, and I wonder if they will come back to bother him in the pros. 6.0/10.0
Jarvis Jones, whose overall score with me is an 8.39/10.00, is a great 3-4 outside linebacker that reminds me a lot of Von Miller. He is strong, fast, and anything a NFL teams wants in a pass rush specialist. His past injuries concern me, he over pursues a lot of plays, and there are times when he gives up and doesn’t chase after plays, but none of these bother me enough where I wouldn’t take him in the first round. Now where do I see him getting picked? He’ll probably get picked anywhere from #11-#17, with the best chances of him being picked by the Dolphins, Saints, Rams, or Steelers.
Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow me on Twitter! @J_Vinton52
Next, I will be previewing Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State!