As one may be able to surmise from the title, the Steelers32 writing team will be enlightening readers with 20 NFL prospects in the next 20 days before the NFL Draft.
With the Steelers having eight picks in the upcoming draft, the writing team will highlight at least two prospects from each projected round. The team will start with prospects projected to be drafted in the seventh round; mixed in with at least one projected to not be drafted. The team will then make their way to the first round projected talent; ultimately ending with whom they expect the Steelers to draft 30th overall on April 27th.
The second prospect the writing team looks at today is Javancy Jones, a defensive end or linebacker from Jackson State. Intrigue surrounds this young man as for most of his years at the little known University, Jones was considered a defensive end. However at the East West Shrine Game, the coaches moved him to inside linebacker with splendid results.
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The Steelers could always use more linebackers with blitzing ability in their complex scheme. At the very least, Jones would give them great effort and attitude on and off the field.
Jones did not participate at the scouting combine in Indianapolis; his height at his Pro-Day at Jackson State was 6-foot-1-inch tall and he weighed in at 240 pounds.
Jones turned in a 40-yard dash time of 4.54 seconds; I repeat, his 40-yard dash time was 4.54 second. A 4.54 40-yard dash is not unheard of; it just does not occur all that often from a man the size of Jones. The disheartening part of the fast 40-yard came when Jones suffered an apparent hamstring injury.
Was Jones’ day done? Of course not as his heart goes unmatched among most men and some gods of the fabled Mount Olympus. Jones then went on to bench-press 225 pounds a wondrous 26 times; the number would have put him as second-best among linebackers at the combine.
Jones did show some great explosiveness by marking a 32-inch vertical leap and a 9-foot-1-inch broad-jump. The most impressive part of his Pro-Day was his effort in giving it his all, despite the apparent injury.
What does the film say?
The first thought that comes to mind when looking at Jones’ game highlights is how quickly he gets set for the next play. A motor like his is not rare in the NFL; the ability to sustain that type of intensity all four quarters is.
When watching the plays from the Shrine Game, Jones looks like a natural at linebacker and may be suited quite well there with the Steelers or any other team. His ability to attack the offensive linemen with his smaller frame, makes him lethal as a play maker.
Finding negatives is usually rather easy when watching NFL prospects’ film highlights; however, the biggest negative for Jones is his size as a defensive end. If Jones moves to linebacker, most of his negatives can be schemed around and used in a positive manner.
Even cbssports.com’s negatives on Jones consists of only three lines; most of which refer to his length and build as a defensive end.
The negatives for Jones as a linebacker would be his lack of snaps at the position, dropping back into coverage and the jump in talent he will face in the NFL. Jones has shown the drive to succeed, regardless of where teams want him to play; he will be up for the task.
I spoke to Jones via direct message yesterday; he and I both agree his skill set shows he deserves much higher than a seventh-round grade. Only time will tell if NFL executives and coaches agree with us. Jones did say, “it’s all in God’s hands now, so whatever he says goes.”
Jones also went on to give a message to any team that may be interested in him. “To any team out there, you are getting a workhorse. I pride myself on making plays and getting better. I do whatever is necessary to make the team better – whether that is playing DE or LB or even special teams. I bring that type of work ethic and commitment to everything I do.” Applications for this writer’s favorite underdog will no longer be accepted at this time.
Any team that looks toward Jones will not be disappointed. Obviously, not every team needs an inside 3-4 linebacker; however, every team can use a versatile workhorse with the determination of Jones.
With high-end talent lacking at inside linebacker throughout this year’s draft class, teams may be holding out in an effort to find the next big star. Jones told me he has already met with around 24 teams and that is sure to climb once word gets out and he is no longer the best prospect no one has heard of.
The list is already going to grow by one as Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has said a meeting is planned between Jones and the Steelers. If they like what they see and hear, the Steelers may have to draft Jones much higher than his current seventh-round grade.
Justin Ekstrom covers the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers for cover32, be sure to follow along on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to check back daily to see the other 18 prospects as we work our way closer to the 2017 NFL Draft.