Steelers Nation must have faith in Jarvis Jones


April 25th will mark the two year anniversary of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ selection of Jarvis Jones with their first round pick in the 2013 NFL draft. It doesn’t seem like too long ago that Steelers’ Nation was hyped beyond belief to have this young man on the roster.

As they should have been. The 2012 SEC Defensive Player of the Year had fallen to all the way to seventeenth on the draft board, right into the Steelers’ lap, after a poor 40 yard dash time may have deterred other teams from selecting him.

They had faith he would be the linebacker they needed him to be at the start of the season.

A little over a month earlier, James Harrison had been released after being unable to reach a contract agreement. Who better than a supreme collegiate talent to fill the void left by such an awe inspiring playmaker?

Jones would start eight of the fourteen games he appeared in, but it could be seen at time he struggled to adjustments. While the first round pick learned the ropes, Jason Worilds stepped up after years of waiting for his chance to show his abilities as a pass rusher.

Worilds would record eight sacks that year, while Jones managed to scrounge only one. The lone sack on E.J. Manuel was used against him on more than one occasion. Many questioned his size throughout the season, and it was something the linebacker worked to improve on.

2014 held much promise for the Steelers’ sophomore linebacker. LaMarr Woodley‘s time in Pittsburgh came to an end, and it was expected a Worilds/Jones duo would wreak havoc for offenses like Harrison and Woodley did in the past.

Jones entered the year ready to improve on his first outing. For all intents and purposes, he performed well when he was on the field. He doubled his sack count from 2013 in his first three games, but tragedy would strike down any hopes for a fruitful year.

In week three against the Carolina Panthers, while making a strip sack on quarterback Cam Newton, he would break his wrist. This injury would sideline him for the majority of the season.

Faith in the young linebacker was dwindling. Had the Steelers made a bad decision when they selected him?

One surgery and three months later he would return to the active roster, but Arthur Moats and Harrison had already established themselves as formidable linebackers in his absence. At the risk of reinjury, Jones was limited in action for the rest of the year.

Before his injury, Steelers’ fans were making the claim that Jones was a bust, wasted pick, etc. For so much enthusiasm that came with the pick a little over a year ago, there was just as much animosity towards him when he didn’t make an immediate impact.

Even the legendary Steelers’ linebacker Greg Lloyd gave his opinion on the matter. Lloyd thought someone on his golf course could do the job that Jones had been doing. Lloyd is the epitome of Steelers’ linebackers, but two and a half games is not enough to give a fair assessment after being named a full time starter.

Mr. Lloyd is right about one thing when he makes the statement: “I want to see Jarvis Jones become a leader.”  Whether he knows it or not, the linebacker corps is his to eventually lead. Harrison cannot play for the rest of his life, and Arthur Moats may be starting material, but he is no first round talent.

Dec 14, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) celebrates their win over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Steelers won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

It all starts with coming into the 2015 season with the intent of keeping his reclaiming his starting job. If he can do so, it will go a long way of proving to his critics that he is a vital piece of the puzzle that is the future of the Steelers’ defense.

Steelers’ fans expected much out of their team’s linebackers. The rich history of the position is a testament to that. Having the faith in Jones that many did at the beginning of 2013 instead of sending him to the chopping block without seeing this young man’s full potential.

2015 will play a decisive role in Jones’ career. If he excels, they have the choice to pick up his fifth year option to keep him on the team even longer. If not, they could be faced with releasing him after the 2016 season.

That will not be the case, however. Jones will battle back and prove that, if not for injury, he could have had a breakout season in 2014.

Call it a long shot, but in the future when mentioning Jarvis Jones, the only bust that you could be referencing him to could be one in Canton, Ohio.

Next: Steelers Draft First Round Big Board

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