After the re-signing of James Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steelers now have two potential starters at the right outside linebacker position. Jarvis Jones is entering the third-year of his career after an injury plagued 2014 season that forced him to miss nine games. Jones, the 17th overall draft pick in 2013, has a grand total of three sacks during his first two NFL seasons.
With Harrison, 36, returning to the Steelers defense next season the question of what do the Steelers actually think of Jarvis Jones is a legitimate one. Especially considering Steelers GM Kevin Colbert expects there to be an “open competition” for the starting right outside linebacker position. Colbert also said this about Jones and his future,
“Jarvis has to come in and he has to pick up where he left off before he injured his wrist because I really think he was playing very well at that point. But to have James there to spell him, push him and compete, we can’t help but benefit from having the two of them.”
The Steelers likely would rather have a 25-year old Jones win the starting spot rather than relying on Harrison, who isn’t getting any younger. These comments by Colbert might be a perfect way to light a fire for Jones in hopes that he can actually produce like a first round draft pick this season. Jones’ production has been an issue but like most other Steelers young outside linebackers it sometimes has taken awhile to make an impact.
LaMarr Woodley, a second round pick in 2007, only made four sacks during his rookie season. His stats then escalated to 11.5 and then a career high 13.5 sacks in his third year. Jason Worilds, a third round pick in 2010, took four seasons to even start 10 or more games. Even Joey Porter, a third round pick in 1999, only recorded two sacks in his rookie year before recording 10.5 in year two of his career.
Personally, I still believe in Jarvis Jones. I may not have many supporters on this but he is only 25 years old and like Colbert said he was playing well before his wrist injury last season. He had two sacks and a forced fumble in the Steelers first three games last year. He then missed ten games with his dislocated wrist and by then James Harrison had already stolen his starting spot by recording 5.5 sacks of his own. Had Jones not gotten hurt who knows how many sacks he would have been able to get last year. At the pace he was on to start the year he would have gotten close to ten sacks.
Having Harrison on the Steelers roster is the perfect scenario in case I am wrong and Jones gets hurt again or if he just can’t play better than Harrison, but to label him a bust after two seasons and only 21 games might not be the smartest thing to do just yet.
What do you think Steelers Nation? Is Jarvis Jones a bust or does he deserve one more year to prove himself?
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