Pittsburgh Steelers’ 20 prospects in 20(or so) days: NC State S, Josh Jones

The writing team of Steelers32 continues on their quest to highlight 20 potential Steelers' prospects by featuring safety, Josh Jones.

Nov 19, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack safety Josh Jones (11) knocks the ball away from Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku (86) during the first half at Carter Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 19, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack safety Josh Jones (11) knocks the ball away from Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku (86) during the first half at Carter Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers32 writing team has been focusing on highlighting 20 draft prospects the Steelers have been interested in during the last 20 days. Today is day 20 and alas, the feat was too much for the proud, the few; Steelers32. We did get close as we are now to the final week before the draft with only a few remaining to cover.

While wading through smoke-screens, few names continually end up on mocks throughout the NFL world. The focus today will be on one such player that a multitude of mocks have slated-in to be selected by the black and gold.

As mentioned in plenty Steelers’ articles, most feel the team goes defense with their first two selections. Some say safety then edge rusher; others lament linebacker then corner back. Regardless of which one readers believe, Josh Jones is on the front of many pundit’s minds.


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Steelers’ 20 prospects in 20 days: Pitt tight end, Scott Orndoff/Jackson State DE or LB, Javancy Jones¬†/Villanova DE, Tanoh Kpassagnon/Colorado S, Tedric Thompson/Syracuse WR, Amba Etta-Tawo/Tennessee QB, Joshua Dobbs/California QB, Davis Webb/UConn S, Obi Melifonwu/A&M WR, Josh Reynolds/A pair of Fighting Illini/WVU CB, Rasul Douglas

Jones was a relative unknown until his NFL Scouting Combine workout put many on notice. Jones finished at the or near the top of the safety class in four of the major categories at the combine.


Jones has the build most have been looking for out of a safety; 6-foot-one-inch, 220 pounds of pure rage. Teams most assuredly hope to contain the rage part to a during-the-play type of rage.

Jones was a three-year starter North Carolina State where he made plays from both safety positions, corner back and linebacker. His versatility will be the main reason teams look toward him in less than one week.

As mentioned, the former Wolfpack member had one hell of a combine by running the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. Jones then went on to bench-press 225 pounds 20 times; adding a vertical-jump and broad-jump of 37.5-inches and 132-inches respectively.

What does the film say?

The above mentioned rage tends to get Jones hot-headed and may be an issue if not wrangled back by coaches. Jones’ attitude not only leads to after-the-play skirmishes, it leads to poor tackling angles and bad upper-body positioning.

Although Jones snagged an interception during the Camping World Independence Bowl, he was spared by a dropped pass into the end zone. That game could have had a much worse turnout had the Vanderbilt receiver hung on to the perfect pass.

Other than the above negatives, Jones’ film looks great. He has an obvious knack for smacking ball-carriers right in the chest, he can play anywhere on the field and his aggression (when controlled) is a total asset.

His outstanding¬†game versus the Miami Hurricanes may be one of the best indicators as to what Jones could do in the NFL. His screen and pick-play recognition was spot on the entire game; leading to 15 total tackles. The Wolfpack even sent Jones on some blitzes; most failed but the failure was not Jones’ fault. Jones’ ability to cover tight ends like David Njoku (pictured), may be the main reason he is being so highly touted.

Bottom line

This kid is a Pittsburgh Steeler, period. Even if he is selected by another team, that team drafted a Pittsburgh Steeler-type of player. Even NFL.com and Nicholas Martin of BTSC from SBNation write that Jones is comparable to Mike Mitchell.

The film does not show me Mitchell 2.0 as much as it shows me Jones 1.0; the young man has a large chance to become a long-time starter in the NFL. With work on tackling angles and harnessing his overzealous nature, Jones could even become a star.

Final thoughts

For right now, Jones is solidly slated as a second-round selection by CBSsports.com. Nothing suggests the Steelers would need to reach for Jones in the first round; yet, many aspects can change in a week. *Update:Draft analyst, Chad Reuter has Jones slated as the Steelers’ 30th-overall selection in his latest mock draft.*

Should Jones be available at the back-end of round-two and the Steelers passed on a safety in round one, evidence suggests the black and gold select the man from North Carolina State.

Justin Ekstrom covers the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers for cover32, be sure to follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

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