Even though NFL training camps are a few weeks from getting underway, it seems like some bold predictions are being made as far as starting lineups. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of those predictions is that rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones will be the first-string right outside linebacker for the Steelers at the start of the 2013 season.
Everyone knows that Pittsburgh has a reputation of not starting rookies, especially on the defensive side of the ball. However, in Jones’ case, things are a bit different. Usually, when drafting a pass-rushing linebacker, the Steelers go after undersized players who played defensive end in college and convert them to outside linebacker. Jones, on the other hand, played outside linebacker in the same 3-4 defensive alignment while playing at the University of Georgia, where he led the nation in sacks last season.
Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau says that Jones has the instincts as a linebacker and doesn’t have to unlearn defensive end tendencies. Hearing such words from one of the league’s best defensive minds says a lot. Furthermore, it should make the prediction of Jones starting a linebacker more credible.
As of right now, Jason Worilds is penciled in as Pittsburgh’s starter. Worilds is entering his fourth year in the NFL and will be entering the most heated battle in training camp later this month against the no. 17 overall pick from this year’s draft.
Taking into account what Jones displayed while playing at Georgia and hearing what LeBeau said about his progress in minicamp, I believe that the chances of Jones starting in Week 1 have slightly increased. I won’t go too far with my assumption considering that Jones has yet to put on pads against NFL talent.
However, I will say that if he doesn’t start by the beginning of the regular season, Jones will definitely be in the defensive rotation earlier than most think and will be on his way to becoming a starter at some point this season.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+