With the Georgia Bulldogs set square off against the Missouri Tigers in arguably the biggest college game this weekend, we thought we’d look at the best player on either team that will play in this contest. That would be Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
As of now, the Bengals’ biggest weakness is depth at the LB spot. With all three starting LBs set to be free agents next season, its almost certain the Bengals will be forced to draft a LB early in next years’ NFL Draft. That’s where Jones potentially comes into play. He’s played primarily as an OLB in Georgia’s 3-4 defense, but he’s show the ability to play as an OLB or DE in a 4-3 defense, which is what the Bengals primarily run. Michael Johnson, Robert Geathers, and Derrick Harvey are slated to hit free agency after the 2012 season, so Jones could be drafted to play DE for the Bengals.
Pros: excellent athletic ability…serious burst off the line of scrimmage…incredible upside..an insane amount of production in 2011…plays with a lot of anger against the pass and the rush…good wrap up tackler…has a good bull rush…plays with good leverage consistently…has the athletic ability and fluidity to drop back into coverage and be effective…Lays some punishing blows…Fantastic motor…Long arms
Cons: Has some problems disengaging from blocks in the run game at times, but generally does a good job of stacking and shedding to get to the ball carrier…Needs more seasoning in his pass rushing repertoire…could stand to get bigger…inexperienced needs to continue refining his technique in pass coverage…Transferred to USC because of a neck injury in his freshman year that he couldn’t get medically cleared by the Trojans medical staff
Player comparison: James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
In one of my weekly Q and A’s with Dan Kadar of Mocking the draft, Kadar compared him to James Harrison and I think that’s an apt comparison. I think Jones has more pure ability than Harrison does and also has longer arms. There are some differences though.Harrison plays with absolutely terrific leverage and is much more solidly built.Harrisonis 6′ 242 pounds, Jones is taller and leaner. Harrison also has a fantastic work ethic and mental toughness…this remains to be seen with Jones, there aren’t any questions about his work ethic, but we’ll see how he responds to the rigors of the N.F.L. if he works hard he could be very successful in the N.F.L. It’s likely Jones draft range will also be dependent at least some on his medical evaluation.
Draft Projection: Early-Mid First-Round
The only concern with Jones is he plays as an OLB inGeorgia’s 3-4 defense, but he’s the Bengals primarily run a 4-3 scheme. Manny Lawson cam from the 49ers 3-4 scheme last season, and struggled to make a significant impact on the team, so it will be interesting to see how he does in year 2, and that may affect rather the Bengals take a chance on another primarily 3-4 LB, though Jones’ abilities and potential looks to be significantly higher than Lawson’s. Mike zimmer should have no trouble utilizing his immense talents. If the Bengals are drafting next year with Jones on the board, it will be very hard to pass up on him.