Blast From The Past: How Jarvis Jones Was Graded Prior To 2013 NFL Draft


Though the last snap of the 2016 NFL Season has been played, the 24/7 – 365 nature of the National Football League rolls on. With the driest spell of the football calendar approaching, football pundits all over the country are looking for substance to bridge them over to the NFL Draft. Mock drafts and draft profiles make up the present and future agenda but a void is left for past evaluations. While many experts break down incoming prospects, it would be interesting to see how previous draft selections have performed compared to their pre-draft evaluations.

While an individual’s mock draft will never be completely accurate, a lot of people correctly guessed the Pittsburgh Steelers taking Jarvis Jones 17th overall in the 2013 Draft. Following a season of lack luster play from LaMarr Woodley and the offseason release of James Harrison, the selection of Jones was a free space on the Steelers draft day bingo card.

Now four years later, Jones has likely played his last down as a Steeler due to his stalling development as a pass rusher. Many in the Steelers’ organization and fan base are certainly disappointed with the selection, but others have seen the writing on the wall since day one.

The NFL.com profile of Jarvis Jones serves as the ground zero for the biggest complaint of the linebacker’s time in Pittsburgh.

“Lacks an ideal frame to get much bigger and doesn’t have the growth potential or the bulk teams want at the position”


Those who follow the Steelers have become accustomed to the talk of Jones lacking the size for his position. Each offseason since Jones’ arrival in Pittsburgh has featured an abundance of stories of how Jones plans to bulk up in his time off.

The NFL.com piece proceeds to highlight the most important issue in Jones lack of development – his inability to rush the passer. “Doesn’t have elite bend around the corner, and could use a spin or other counter move to keep tackles guessing.”

Though the NFL.com piece was written four years ago, it has held its weight against the notion of time. In fact, if you were not aware that the piece was a pre-draft profile you could be led to believe that it is a recently written critique of Jones’ time in Pittsburgh.

Although there were more than a few non-believers at the time, the overwhelming majority, including Mike Mayock, thought Jones was the perfect fit for the Steelers’ franchise.

“He’s a pretty good fit there in Pittsburgh. If you look at the Pittsburgh edge at linebackers, this kid fits from a body type and an explosion perspective. I think he’ll get on the field and challenge Jason Worilds for the starting spot.” – Mike Mayock

Mayock was not the only one who loved the pick, so did Andy Benoit, an analyst and writer for Sports Illustrated. At the time of the selection Benoit was writing for The Fifth Down, a blog hosted by The NY Times. In his piece titled “Why Jarvis Jones Was Perfect Pick for Steelers”, Benoit states that Jones may be the best pick of the draft.

“From a conceptual standpoint, Pittsburgh’s selection of the Georgia pass rusher Jarvis Jones might be the best pick in the 2013 N.F.L. Draft.” Benoit states.

Benoit goes on to make his case, stating that familiarity and development will hold key for Jones’ success in Pittsburgh. “The Steelers trust immensely in their ability to develop players. Jones appealed to them because, having played in a 3-4 scheme at Georgia that is similar to what Dick LeBeau runs in Pittsburgh, there was less guesswork in determining whether his skills will translate.” Benoit writes.

Unexpected to Mayock, Benoit and the rest of the Steelers’ organization was just how rough the translation of Jones’ skill would become. In what was supposed to be a smooth adjustment has become a train wreck of epic proportions. Injuries and poor play have resulted in Jones mustering just six career sacks, leaving his future in question as the Steelers seem prepared to move on.

With the Steelers searching for a pass rusher yet again in this year’s draft, the review of Jones’ selection could not be more appropriate. The Steelers can ill afford to be wrong again if they hope to take the next step on the NFL’s ladder of dominance.

  • PaeperCup

    HAH! Well what were the positives in his draft profile? There has to have been something that a lot of teams were attracted to? and it wasn’t just the Steelers. I’d like to see where we got it wrong.

  • The Truth

    Deceiving stats attracted them.

  • PaeperCup

    Yes, a productive college career is one factor. But NFL GMs and Scouts are smarter than that, to just look at numbers.

  • John Mazza

    People talk about Jarvis but geez there was a lot of misses in the first round. before and after this pick, some decent offensive guys but defense after is slim. not many have panned out. Slay but took years to step up and Jamie Collins in the second but yeah.

  • PaeperCup

    The great EJ Manuel was picked one spot ahead of us. There are 4x as many probowlers in the second half of the first round than in the top 16 picks.

  • 20Stoney

    Nice article. It would be interesting to see this done with other picks a few years down the line.

  • 20Stoney

    I remember watching his tape after the draft, and thinking he made a lot of plays because he was freed up by scheme. He did finish though.

  • Steelers12

    i am still shocked at the lack of athleticism and burst Jones has displayed in the NFL

  • Daniel Valente

    2013 was a pretty weak years for OLBs in general. In hindsight, bad year to be drafting an OLB but Steelers did not have a lot of options.

  • budabar

    Please no more I can’t take it let’s just move on and forget this bum

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Looked at a highlight reel of JJ with all his sacks. I remember he dropped into a shallow zone many times while the QB ran around like a chicken with his head cut off for 8 seconds (the secondary must have been good). Eventually JJ would track him down. Uninspiring to say the least. With this evidence and the Stenosis I was shocked they took him. Way too much of a gamble.

    He’s a good guy and has become stronger and good against the run. Just never going to cut it in Pittsburgh.

  • Kyle Chrise

    love this. analysts need to be held accountable. how many hours are spent covering mock drafts and fantasy production, but no one ever gets it right. Yet they get to keep doing it each week and each year.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Interesting to look back at the profiles. 2 things immediately spring to mind from this.

    One is, it would be nice to see how our Depot guys have done overall on their profiling and 2, I would like to know Mayocks history of success. The dude is featured heavily in all of this draft stuff and I just have no clue how accurate he is with it all.

  • Didn’t like him as a prospect. Hated the pick at the time. Appreciate his attitude but he’s not an edge guy. I still think he could kick inside and do alright.

  • RickM

    The one thing I’ve learned over the last several years is draft guys who already have a variety of pass rushing moves. Not guys that you hope can learn and master some key ones. My guess is these college guys have all tried the additional moves in college but just weren’t good executing them.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    I gotta admit I thought he was gonna be a real plus for us – felt that way until THIS year!! 😑
    He had a great start to LAST season, with a multiple sack game and a two game streak for sacks and then hurt his wrist.
    That was all she wrote!!!!

  • Steve

    Jones had burst and sometimes looked like a mad man running around last year, but it did not translate into sacks and tackles. Not sure how well Jarvis studied film, but it always seemed the other team ran around him.

  • Steelers12

    He will go to a 4-3 team and be a dependable starter

  • Pricopea

    I wonder if a new team and a position change would help JJ

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Thank you, Rick –

    Everybody in the NFL is big. Everybody is fast. Everybody is strong. The best pass rushers are those who have mastered the “technique” of pass rushing. Speed and strength in college does not mean speed and strength in the NFL. But excellent technique against lower competition often equals excellent technique against higher competition. It doesn’t change.

    Also, it helps to have experience in a top 5 conference, but it is not a requirement. Look at Javon Hargrave. His moves translated very nicely to the NFL and he played against scrubs.

    I think Taco Charlton and Demarcus Walker both show pretty good technique off the edge. And I love their size. I also think Charles Harris has a really good spin move that will translate nicely to the NFL.

  • The Truth

    Not all of the time. Video shows that Jones’ sacks were nothing special. This was most likely a Tomlin pick all the way. It’s why he handed him the starting job each year based on his draft status instead of actual ability.

  • Dshoff

    Wow, those three guys are the ones I like as well! I’m really impressed with Walker and they say he could last until the 4th round! If we could get him at the end of the 3rd, I’d jump at him.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    The moment we drafted Jarvis Jones I threw a football at the wall (luckily missing my TV). My buddy (who was watching with me) chastised me for being a bad fan, to which I argued I was being a good fan, because I wanted my team to win, and in order to do that, you have to draft good players.

    He told me I was wrong. And that the Steelers staff knew more than me. So, we ended up making a friendly bet. If after 4 years, Jarvis turned out to be a great player, he got to kick me one time in my family jewels as hard as he deemed appropriate. If Jarvis turned out to be a bad player, he had to treat me to a steak dinner at a restaurant of my choice.

    Last month, after the AFC championship loss, he took me to Flemming’s for a nice filet (medium), with baked potato, and a side salad. It was delicious.

    I am an average fan but even I could see certain things that apparently Colbert + Tomlin + LeBeau + Rooney could not. I watched extensive game tape of Jarvis before the draft. I watched him at the combine. I read up on whatever medical info and scouting evaluations I could find on the internet. And I was so confident in my analysis (that he would be a sub par player) that I put my family jewels up to risk of severe pain.

    I’m not trying to pat my own back. I have been dead wrong before as well. Many times. And I’m glad the Steelers didn’t listen to me in those instances. But my point is, every GM out there makes mistakes. Every team owner or coach or scout makes mistakes. And just because someone is a “professional” football evaluator doesn’t make them right all the time. Sometimes fans just like us DO know more than team officials.

    I enjoy hearing everyone’s input and analysis and predictions on this site (even though I disagree with a lot of them). We’re all hoping that the Steelers draft a great edge rusher (or two) this year. And I’m rooting for Colbert to zero in on the best couple of options (even if that means a trade up). We need this one to hit.

  • RickM

    Good names to mention. Unfortunately I think 2 of the 3 will be gone but you never know. I guarantee you that the Steelers are going to have to be very careful at 30. The whole world thinks they will be going for an edge rusher. I’m kind of worried about a team trading up to say 28 or 29 to beat them to a key guy. I would love Colbert to be aggressive and move up to get a guy. But that never happens anymore.

  • Eric Whyuwannaknow

    Analysts need to be held accountable???…Any analyst’s job is to run their mouth…offer their opinion. No mock draft or fantasy will ever be correct. They get paid to offer their opinion, no matter how right or wrong it is. No one is forced to take their advice or pay attention to it.

  • Kyle Chrise

    They add no value and don’t deserve their salaries

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Walker is the one guy who I think could be the real “sleeper” at edge. And I mean that the same way Lamar Woodly was a sleeper. People know he’s good. They just don’t know exactly how good.

    I think if we drafted Walker and had him lose 15 pounds before training camp, he would immediately look more explosive, and not get fatigued so easily. And those are his two main issues/weaknesses as of right now.

    I think he will definitely be available at 1.30 and possibly be there at 2.30 but I don’t think he will get out of the 2nd round. But the combine will be very revealing for him, and his ultimate draft position.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    He was a wrecking machine in college but his lacklustre athletic testing should have set off the alarm bells.

  • Ken Krampert

    OLB pick wasn’t even needed in the 1st round that year. We should have kept Deebo, and we had Worilds and Woodley. Granted, Woodley plummeted and Worilds was underwhelming, but it shouldn’t have been a desperate pick. Could have had Jamie Collins in the 2nd. We needed DBs….

  • Daniel Valente

    I believe the Steelers wanted to keep Deebo but we were tight salary cap wise and couldn’t agree on a restructured deal.

  • Applebite

    Jones has very good skills, just not that of a 3-4 OLB. He needs to be inside to make use of those skills in a 3-4, or get with a team that’s running a 4-3 to remain outside. Basically, he’s not a proper fit as he is currently. if they want to keep him on board, they’ll need to move him inside so he can make use of his abilities. He’s not a player that should be taking on OTs on a regular basis. But shooting the gaps, feinting towards the middle in a zone scheme, that’s better suited for him. If Timmons wasn’t in question this off- season, Jones would be a proper fit there.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Sorry, man but JJ would be the 7th best ILB behind Matavevitltch and the next UDFA they pick up. Way too slow. Just write him off

  • Applebite

    Totally disagree with that.

  • MintDragon

    Agree with you paeper… nfl. com was one of a thousand pre-draft rankings for players, not fair to cherry pick someone’s scathing prediction, though the other quotes were positive. nfl. com also gave the Steelers an A- for their pick of Jarvis Jones following the draft, comparing him to Deebo. nfl. com/draft/2013

  • Rodney Brooks

    It Happens

    Jarvis was picked because he was the most productive pass rusher in college football for 2 years in a row.

    His size, strength and speed haven’t really deterred his ability to be effective – in that he sets the edge, stops the run and covers the pass. His lack of agility and ‘bend’ when trying to get around that corner has resulted in a weak pass rusher.

    I believe he’s a complete LB, who will be successful elsewhere. His pass rushing ability isn’t a strength for sure. But his injuries and limited snap count certainly didn’t help his development.

    The long and short of it, is it just didn’t work out. It happens. We didn’t make a mistake.

  • jsteeler

    Butler and Colbert picked him. Why is it always Tomlin you bring up? SMDH.

  • Michael James

    If they draft Walker, I’ll be the one throwing a football at my TV…
    For me he’s the next Jarvis Jones. Shows zero (and I mean ZERO) bending ability, only wins inside and isn’t a good athlete.

  • Michael James

    Played for a big school and was a statsheet hero. That’s all it takes sometimes.

  • jsteeler

    Pittsburgh’s defensive scheme didn’t fit JJ. Nor the the coaches put him in positions to make plays. When they did he did sack. (Twisting into the DL for sacks or Interceptions when dropping into zone. Other than that he was out of position. JJ at 230 going up against a DT 320-340 with a punch JJ didn’t have a chance.
    LeBeau tried to make it work. Butler kept putting him in there with Joey Porter and James Harrison in mind. It didn’t work. Every team mis cast players. It doesn’t always work. Shazier to safety anyone? He was a good player who played out of position. This is on the Defensive coaches. They are human too. I am proud of the Defensive coaches to continue to give him a chance. He had developed into a great run stopper. Some team will find the correct position for him and he will flourish. I am sure of it. He has pedigree and 3 years in the playoffs type of experience. A, 4-3 DE/OLB will be great for him. Baltimore, Miami or Detroit would be awesome for him. Good luck JJ.

  • Steve Johnson

    All of these deficiencies were noted prior to the draft. Why the Steelers drafted him? They clearly reached! They were desperate, Woodley had become a disappointment after signing that huge contract, James Harris was out the door. The worse #1 draft pick of the Colbert Era.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Michael –

    You are half right. Walker does not show good “bend” on tape. I have seen flashes of a quick “dip/rip” move, but he usually only does that when he’s pass rushing from the right edge (which he rarely does) not the left edge (which is where he belongs).

    Check out the following clips for reference:

    FSU vs Clemson (2016), 3rd quarter, 4:38 remaining
    FSU vs Florida (2016), 2nd quater, 12:54 remaining

    If you want a guy who “bends” and “flattens” like James Harrison or Von Miller, Demarcus Walker is definitely NOT your guy. But you won’t find a better “swim” move in the entire 2017 edge class (or at least anywhere near 1.30). And that is directly translatable to the NFL, where Keith Butler is asking 6’3″ OLB’s with 33″ arms to go against 6’6″ OT’s with 35″ arms (being outweighed by 30+ pounds).

    You can’t just “duck” and “dip” on every play. That’s where we see James Harrison struggle. He ducks and bends beautifully, and then the OT just grabs his neck and rides him out. You have to be able get the OT’s hands off you at the snap and get a free release. And Walker can.

    He has a natural low center of gravity. You can see a good knee bend when he runs. And that’s why he’s always tackling people’s legs/waists instead of their shoulders. But you’ll notice he starts the majority of his snaps low and then pops up with power. That is what allows him to generate such force with his initial “slap” or “shuck.”

    As soon as he “swims” his free arm over, you’ll notice he quickly bends his knees again. This allows him to regain the power in his lower half for phase two: to either pursue the QB, or to set his inside shoulder to gain leverage against the run. That’s why he doesn’t get knocked off balance or washed out of plays (like so many of the “lighter” edge prospects).

    This is the biggest difference between Demarcus Walker and Jarvis Jones. Jarvis has no power in his lower half (or upper half for that matter) to gain leverage against OT’s (no matter if it’s a swim or dip or spin move). Walker does. He has a grown man’s body at 280 pounds, whereas Jarvis is 250 tops. And I believe if Walker lost 15 pounds you’d much more quickness/explosion without losing power because, again, he generates it from his legs first.

    Walker is also very adept at batting down passes, which is crucial if you’re playing Tom Brady, because the ball is usually out in two or three seconds. And the fact that he uses the swim move so often, allows him to actually see the throwing motion from the beginning and time his jump better. Again you’ll see this on tape.

    Walker definitely needs to work on his dip/rip move. But I believe he can and will improve that. The bend and flatten with ankle flexibility will never be there (and I acknowledge that), which is why he’s not a top 10 pick. Plus his size is kind of in between positions. I totally understand if you don’t want us to draft Walker, or don’t think he’s a good fit for our scheme at edge, but I least want you to be aware of his strengths.

  • michael young

    I wouldn’t have had a problem with the pick if it occurred late in the first round, as that what you usually deal with there. Either high production and limited (not elite) athletiticism or elite athleticism and limited production. But at 17, you need both. When you draft top 20, you really need to go best available at any position of relative need. They reached for him at a position of need and he panned out as expected. Not terrible, not exceptional, but serviceable. Not adequate value at pick 17.

  • Paul Rainey

    How can I, a football fan have known this guy was a bust before he even put on a Steeler jersey and men who get paid millions didn’t know this? They became blinded by and fell in love with his statistics. He played in the beloved SEC, but were his high number of sacks against all SEC teams or a lot of marginal non conference teams. It’s funny that jsteeler absolves Tomlin of all blame while blaming AR2, Butler and Colbert that is absurd. If Tomlin only coaches why was he unable to coach this player? Terry Bradshaw hit the nail on the head. By the way I have been a devoted Steeler fan for over 60 years and I am embarrassed by what they have become.

  • Roger G

    You sir, can never be accused of lacking conviction after making a bet like that. I once made a similar bet with a buddy being so confident I was correct that I proposed the loser would get a boob job and keep it for a year. Needless to say he backed out and conceded. I’m a ribeye kinda guy myself but a filet cooked medium would have me scoot’n to the table.

  • Eric Whyuwannaknow

    Their value/salaries is important to any network that sees value in their gift of gab. They don’t work for any sports franchise, so the value certainly isn’t for them. As from a fan stand point, if you choose to listen to them for your fantasy league or even come draft time, then shame on you. These ppl get paid to talk. It does not matter if an analyst opinion is right or wrong about a player’s performance. As long as that opinion isn’t offensive, these analyst will always collect a salary.

  • Michael Conrad

    I said he had nothing from day one. He should be moved inside by a team . He was never an OLB. I know the Steelers gambled and lost as 2013 was not a good group of players in the first round . He was the best of a weak group of OLB that year. He showed nothing in his highlights or his pro day to pick him at 15.

  • Rodney Brooks

    Ziggy Hood was a #1…

  • Rodney Brooks

    No one hits on all those they draft. No one hits on most of those they draft. No one.

    The Steelers are the reigning AFC North champions. They lost to the world champion New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. You’re “embarrassed by what they have become”?…

  • The Truth

    Where does it say all them picked Jones, but not Tomlin? Tomlin gave him the starting job each year. If he didn’t want him to start then he would have left him on the bench.

    Why do I often bring up Tomlin’s name? Because he is the HC of the team. Was that a serious question?

  • Kyle Chrise

    Not for long

  • Eric Whyuwannaknow

    Let me know when someone like Mike Mayock gets fired for being wrong about a player coming out of college for being that “Can’t miss” prospect or even the best pick in the draft.

  • Tom McConnell

    The point would be that it was not just Tomlin like you insinuate.

    Every pick with the Steelers is a consensus pick. The HC does not have more weight than AR2 and it is only slightly more than Colbert.

  • Tom McConnell

    Absolutely correct. First round picks fail just as often with every team.

    Funny thing, Antonio Brown & Tom Brady were both 6th rounders. The point is the draft is a crap shoot.

  • Tom McConnell

    You’re probably right.

  • Tom McConnell

    I never understood this pick. He also had medical problems that really could have had major effects on his play. I believe it was with his neck.

    There was an ILB that would have been a better pick and free agents that could have helped on the outside. Names escaping me now.

    BUT just as easily, they could have hit a home run. Especially with the Steelers, I give them grace on their picks. They are better than most. None of us could pick that well. I would have drafted Shazier as a Safety, just due to speed.