Due to unforseen circumstances I’ll be delaying my updated mock draft until tomorrow, ahead of the Seahawks game against the Eagles. In my first projection last week I paired Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones with the Seahawks in round one. He’s collected 13.5 sacks this season playing as an undersized defensive end, but would move to the WILL linebacker position for Seattle. Jones also has some familiarity with Pete Carroll as a former USC recruit who transferred to Georgia after suffering a neck injury.
In tomorrow’s updated mock, Jones will jump further up the board way ahead of the range Seattle is currently picking. Thanks to John (JMPasq) for putting together the tape so you can see why I have him ranked so highly. He’s clearly not suited to playing every down at the LOS – there are occasions where he just gets flushed out by a tackle, he doesn’t have the necessary upper body power to disengage from blocks or the correct hand use and wingspan/reach. He’s always going to be better in space, and this is what I like about his pass rushing ability from the linebacker position. Look at his third sack in this game at 2:05 and the way he dances round the lineman when he’s in space. It’s not an edge rush (I always look for DE/OLB’s who come inside and don’t rely on the edge in college) and he makes the tackle look foolish it’s so fluid. The fourth sack at 6:22 is pure speed, in space, off the edge.
So why is he going to adjust to linebacker? From what I’ve seen in four Georgia games this season, he’s a sure tackler who can move into coverage and take away crossing routes or checkdowns. Look at the forced fumble at 3:48 where he sprints from a standing left end position to the outside side of the field to make an instinctive play on the ball. At 4:57 he’s in coverage and does a good job disrupting one route before adjusting to another. He’s a little bit stiff on the next play, also in coverage, but he reacted quickly enough to limit the gain. He does a better job at 5:54.
This is a guy who will create pressure and impact plays, exactly what the Seahawks hoped they’d get with the last linebacker they drafted in round one. Aaron Curry had nine sacks in four years at Wake Forest, barely ever played at the line of scrimmage and didn’t have anything like the pure edge speed and pass rush awareness that Jones shows. In one season of football at Georgia, he has 4.5 more sacks than Curry produced in a four-year college career. Ruskell and co believed Leroy Hill was the ideal WILL and he continues to feature in that role for the Seahawks. It’s not a position in need of immediate improvement, but there is a critical need to create more pressure and not just rely on the LEO defensive end. This isn’t a draft full of defensive line talent, so this is one solution if the Seahawks are forced to turn to defense in round one.
Jones’ best football is ahead of him, which is probably why he’s stated he’ll return to Georgia. However, his stock may never be higher following a season where he has more sacks than all but one player (Whitney Mercilus) in the country. He wears the same number as Earl Thomas and he could end up having a similar impact as a playmaking defensive talent.