For the second straight year, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a linebacker with their first pick of the NFL Draft. This season they opted to take Ryan Shazier, out of Ohio State.
While Shazier will hog plenty of the spotlight this offseason, let’s swing the focus to last year’s first rounder, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
Jones is coming off a lackluster rookie season. High expectations were knocked down after the rookie linebacker only managed to account for one sack last season. He looked like a rookie for almost all of the season.
Jones apparently had a difficult time understanding the defense. That’s understandable though, Dick LeBeau’s system is complex and for a rookie to catch on immediately would be something special. Still, there were higher expectations for Jones than just one sack.
Now the expectations continue to grow and season two has to be a better one for Jones.
The Steelers’ defensive play will be a main point this season. After last season’s disappointment, this side of the ball will need familiar guys like Jones and Jason Worilds to make an impact. The team will also look at rookies like Shazier and sixth round pick, linebacker Jordan Zumwalt out of UCLA to help better the pass rush.
The Steelers took to the draft to improve their defensive front. They went heavy on linebackers when most thought they would draft for the secondary. The Steelers believe that the front end will help the back end.
If they want that help, Jones will need to have better production this season. He’ll have help. The Steelers have brought back former linebacker Joey Porter to help coach guys like Jones.
Keith Butler, the Steelers’ linebacker’s coach, compared Jones to Joey Porter, saying they were almost the same player.
I can’t say I totally buy into that. Porter was a loud mouth player who was immensely productive during his time in Pittsburgh. Jones has only played one season, but I don’t sense the same kind of attitude from young Jones.
Trash talking and having a nickname like “J-Peezy,” doesn’t get you where you need to be, so Jones may be bit more quiet but he can still have the same abilities Porter once displayed.
Now that he has a season under his belt, Jones will be expected to understand the defense and cut down on mistakes such as not knowing where to line up.
Jone will have a better season than last. The Steelers should see better stats from this young linebacker and with the help of Porter he’s bound to make a bigger impression.
What say you? Will Jones have a comeback or find himself in the sophomore slump?