The Pittsburgh Steelers could have a big role in store for 2013 first-round pick Jarvis Jones. After getting an early look at what Jones can bring to the field, the Steelers are reportedly accepting the idea that he could become the first Steelers rookie to start on defense since 2001. The last Steelers rookies to earn a starting role on the defensive side of the ball were Kendrell Bell and Casey Hampton.
The team has seen enough of the 17th overall pick since then to privately acknowledge that he could be that rarest of commodities: a rookie who actually starts for the Steelers at the prized outside linebacker spot. There’s apparently a decent chance now that Jones can bump fourth-year veteran Jason Worilds (10 sacks in three seasons) as the heir apparent to James Harrison’s old spot on the right side.
One big reason: Unlike most of the players Pittsburgh has developed at outside linebacker, Jones is a pure linebacker. The standard paradigm for the Steelers is to take an undersized college defensive end, then develop him for a year or two as a 3-4 linebacker. Jones will have some rough patches, for sure, but he won’t have to make the switch that so many Steelers’ stars have in the past.
The Steelers desperately need youth on the defensive side of the ball and allowing Jones to start from day one could have a positive impact on his future. Even if Jones becomes the team’s starting outside linebacker, there is a very good chance that Worilds will play a significant role in the positional rotation.
Jones was a top ten talent that fell in the draft because of injury concerns, but it looks like that could prove to be a blessing for the Steelers moving forward.