Howard Jones Looking To Continue Trend Of UDFA Outside Linebackers

The Pittsburgh Steelers currently find themselves in a bit of a bind at outside linebacker—particularly when it comes to depth. With both James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley now a thing of the past, the team is turning to Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones to start. Which is a problem, because Worilds has been the depth chart for the past four seasons.

The only pure outside linebacker with any experience on the roster behind the starters is fourth-year veteran Chris Carter, who has yet to show much of anything. Due to the lack of talent there, however, he figures to find his way onto the roster by default once again.

The Steelers also signed Arthur Moats during free agency, who can play both inside and outside. He may be better suited to the inside, but the numbers currently dictate that the team focuses on honing his outside abilities.

Maybe it’s about time for another undrafted free agent outside linebacker to make an impact. Could Howard Jones continue a trend of recent years?

In 2012, undrafted free agent Adrian Robinson impressed enough during the preseason that the Steelers carried him on the roster as the ninth linebacker for the entire duration of the season.

He performed well enough that the team was able to trade him for running back Felix Jones last year, who made the roster.

Last season, it was Alan Baxter who excelled during the preseason, bringing more pressure than any other Steelers player through the four exhibition games.

The Steelers had just drafted two linebackers, however, and they preferred Terence Garvin for both his special teams play and inside-outside versatility.

Baxter spent the first five weeks of the season on the practice squad before being released. As of a few days ago, he is a free agent now, although there are no reports that the team has expressed any interest in bringing him back.

Now it’s Jones’ chance to crack the roster as an undrafted free agent, which has been a bit easier to accomplish in recent years with the number of holes on the team.

According to Mike Prisuta, Howard “was a priority free agent. The Steelers had to talk him into it a little bit, so he might turn out to be something”.

Bob Labriola went on, pointing out the chip on his shoulder:

“I asked him today why he chose the Steelers after the draft, and he said that the other teams that were interested in him as an undrafted rookie, he said they all told me they would draft him. They didn’t, so he picked the Steelers”.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • lefnor

    Arthur Moats is an OLB backup. He was a DE at James Madison (with 29 sack over three years) and played inside at the Bills, because they had no depth there.
    He is a typical undersized OLB for the Steelers, just like Robinson or Baxter was.

  • Jacob

    I still think James Harrison is a viable option right now and they should sign him next month

  • Kenneth Wilt

    He is all honesty is in a good situation, but he must show he can help on ST as well.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    One of the thoughts I had during the draft was that the special teams ability of some of the draftees should be sufficient to replace Carter with Harrison who I think would be able to give us some real value on a part time basis.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I’ll give him a pass on special teams if he can play the position. A backup should be a good player first and a special teamer 2nd. We can’t get the guys whose overall grade is based on pretty good play and pretty good special teams play.

    I don’t mean special teams isn’t important but players like Carter who can’t really play LB can’t be rostered as 1st back up just because they play special teams well.

  • toonasteel

    Where’s my comment from earlier today with the link for Howard Jones’ highlights?

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I like Howard Jones much more that I did with Alan Baxter and Adrian Robinson. Yes they were good, but Jones seem to be the guy who WILL stick to the roster. His speed is all there, athleticism is a 1st-2nd round skillset but playing for a small school hurted him.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I just want him back so he can instill toughness to the def again teams were scared of him for a reason and he should retire a steeler and hopefully go out like ray lewis did

  • walter mason

    Harrison can play special teams.

  • steve

    i don’t understand why if Baxter is free they wouldn’t at least invite him to camp!!