However, lacks ideal girth and power at the point of attack, isn't a guy who can consistently anchor inside and is routinely forced to spin off blocks and chase the play in pursuit once a lineman is able to get out to him. Demonstrates only average sideline-to-sideline range in pursuit after adding about ten pounds as a senior. However, still locates the ball quickly and can break down well as a tackler on all areas of the field.
Exhibits some pass rush ability on third down, displays a good first step off the edge, can threaten the corner and loves to work a sudden spin move back inside in order to lose his blocker. Showcases good balance and footwork in his drop in coverage as well. But isn't real explosive out of his breaks when asked to redirect and close.
Isn't much of a playmaker on the football in the pass game because of his limitation athletically and will struggle to run down the seam at the next level. Will bite on play fakes at times and take a false step away from the throw, but works hard in pursuit and consistently is able to put himself around the action.
Impression: Has added some weight as a senior and doesn't look as fluid or explosive as he did earlier in his career. Has the ability to find and tackle the football inside, but is a very average NFL linebacker from both a physical/athletic standpoint. Has the ability to come in and make a roster, but don't see him as a starter."
Run Defense: A bit smaller than teams prefer as an in-the-box presence, yet very effective as a run defender. Flows to the ball and reads his keys well, at times moving towards the play side before the snap. Picks his way through traffic on most plays but gets caught up in trash and engulfed by offensive linemen at times due to his small frame. Plays with leverage, however, against blocks to hold his ground or bounce off to chase plays down the field. Stays low to the ground to defeat cut blocks with his hands. Also uses his hands or a swim move to avoid approaching linemen, albeit consistently. Is a bit aggressive in his angles; quicker backs can beat him to the corner on occasion.
Pass Defense: Fluid pass defender in space, owns the hips and athleticism to stay with running backs out of the backfield. Keeps athletic position when greeting backs in the hole, reads and reacts quickly to out routes or square-ins. Will take a step in on play action and overrun routes, but recovers well enough to make a play on the ball. Faces match-up problems against taller, stronger tight ends over the middle. Has not intercepted a pass or knocked away many passes.
Tackling: Excellent pursuit tackler. Excels as a drag-down tackler in traffic or in space, but can be explosive as well when lined up. Goes sideline-to-sideline, giving great effort to chase down fast ballcarriers in order to prevent touchdowns. A bit undersized to stop larger running backs and tight ends in their tracks, but plays with a low center of gravity to hold them up until help arrives. Typically flows well to the ball but will overrun plays occasionally because of his aggressive style. Inconsistent getting off linemen blocks inside but defeats those from most tight ends on the edge. Could be an exceptional special teams coverage unit performer.
Pass Rush/Blitz: Effective blitzer because of his ability to anticipate the snap count, read gaps and explode through them. Uses hands to defeat pulling guards and fullbacks in the hole. Plays with leverage, gets under the shoulder of guards to beat them inside when the space is available. Has speed to turn the corner when blitzing from outside. Hustles toward the ball until it is away. Good change of direction to track down mobile quarterbacks in the pocket or chase them down outside of it. His lack of size allows linemen to latch on if they get a hand on him, though he still sometimes manages to get a hand on backs coming through the vacated hole while engaged.
Intangibles: Considered the team's greatest playmaker and leader on defense, as well as a solid young man. Voted co-captain by coaches and teammates. Gives full effort in weight room and on the practice field. Mentors and commands respect from younger players. Durable performer who hasn't missed a game in three years despite mixing it up in the box for half of those games."
Instincts: As a four-year starter, Jones is incredibly instinctive. He's a read and react linebacker who gets after the ball. Makes his read and gets after the ball on run plays. On bootlegs and designed roll outs, Jones tends to make a false step before correcting himself. Does a good bit of work pre-snap to adjust himself to the side of the ball the play is coming. Looked much better as a senior moving teammates around.
Pass rush: Gets at the quarterback more than his stats may indicate. Although he sometimes has trouble on blocks, Jones closes when he has an open lane to rush. Has a good rip move that should only get better as he gets stronger in the NFL. Was typically used on stunts at Michigan State.
Pursuit: Jones could become a real terror if he learns better pursuit angles. Although he's gotten better as a senior, Jones has had issues in the past with blockers. Instead of engaging, he'll often find an angle around.
Quickness: Manages to beat blockers because of his quickness. Can quickly flip his hips to change direction. Has impressive closing speed.
Run defense: Has a tendency to get pushed around in run support. Needs to do a better job disengaging from blockers. Has been wildly productive because he reads the play quickly and gets after the ball carrier. Solid against the outside and inside run. Shows enough athleticism to move sideline-to-sideline. Doesn't have long playing speed to track down speed backs.
Strength: Although Jones has improved considerably in this area, he needs to continue getting stronger. Makes up for his lack of strength by keeping his pads low.
Tackling: Jones is a good hit-and-wrap tackler but he doesn't have a lot of pop on his hits. Rarely gets off his feet when making a tackle. Stays low which naturally generates better power. Finishes off really nicely. Not a liability in this area at all.
Final word: Jones is the kind of player an NFL coach will love. He's started since his true freshman season, first at the strong side before moving inside his sophomore year. Jones also plays on punt and kickoff coverage and has led the team in tackles four straight years.
As a linebacker prospect, Jones is solid. No areas of his game really are spectacular. But he's also not a detriment in any area that can't be made better as a professional. He's improved physically every year he's been at Michigan State and still has plenty of room to grow.
Jones doesn't represent the sexiest of linebacker picks, but he's a solid second-round choice who will make an impact early in his career."
Without coincidence, Michigan State’s Greg Jones possesses all of these qualities, and is considered by many to be the highest-rated prospect at the position in the 2011 NFL Draft class.
Jones' leadership helps make him a very appealing prospect.
So, what’s so special about him?
Jones was a starter in all four years at Michigan State, and, as mentioned above, has a reputation as a great leader and very hard-worker. He has solid speed for his position, and can cover the field sideline-to-sideline. He has great instincts, and closes very well on the ball-carrier. Jones is a sure-handed tackler, and shows good technique, rarely missing in traffic or in the open field. He has very good footwork and can cover with the best of them. He was extremely productive in college, finishing his career with 464 tackles, 16 sacks and a pair of interceptions. He may not be the most physically intimidating player, but the tremendous productivity cannot be ignored.
Jones doesn’t have the best size or strength, so he’ll struggle from time to time when trying to shed blocks. He isn’t overly physical, and is more of a sure tackler than a bruising tackler. As a result, he forced just two fumbles in his four collegiate seasons. He’s a tad on the short side as a middle linebacker, and may be better served to shift over to the weak side as a pro. While he does many things very well, he isn’t truly elite in any area.
Despite his great intangibles, Jones’ physical limitations may hurt his draft stock. Some project him as a possible late first-rounder, but he seems more and more likely to drop somewhere near the middle area of the second round. Coaches and scouts love his leadership and work ethic, and high-character guys are appealing for obvious reasons. Our own Keet Bailey has Jones going No. 44 overall to the Detroit Lions in his latest mock draft.
NFL Player Comparison: DeMeco Ryans"
Positive: Intense and intelligent linebacker with a great head for the ball. Explosive at the point, quickly fills gaps up the field, and immediately locates the ball. Shows ability in pursuit, fluid moving in reverse, and has a burst to the action. Goes hard sideline to sideline, remains disciplined with assignments, and gives effort tackling. Fluid moving in every direction of the field. Incredibly instinctive and does a great job making sure teammates are in proper position.
Negative: Undersized, struggles taking on blocks, and is more of a drag down tackler. Marginal strength at the point.
Analysis: Jones has been a tackling machine at Michigan State and is a highly competitive linebacker who plays smart football. He has size limitations, but if he's put in a system that protects linebackers, he should be a productive starter at the next level."
Negatives: Plays out of control at times, will miss tackles if taking a bad angle... Has good frame, but could stand to add some bulk if he is to be highly effective blitzing up the middle in the NFL... Displays stiff hips in man coverage and has difficulty staying with players at the cut, needs to display better man coverage skills to play inside in a 3-4... Needs to take better pursuit angles when playing away from the ball, can get caught in traffic when running sideline to sideline... Shows lack of discipline on some plays, gets out of position and does not always maintain gap responsibilities... May be best suited playing on the outside in the NFL as a pass rusher, as opposed to playing full-time on running downs."
As a sophomore, Jones tallied 127 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 3 passes broken up in coverage. He was even more impressive as a junior with 141 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, and a forced fumble. Jones has averaged 9.1 tackles per game from his middle linebacker position.
Strengths: Jones has a skill set that is a bit reminiscent of Derrick Brooks when he was leaving FSU, though not quite as freakishly quick. Jones has a very high motor and makes plays all over the field. In on nearly every play, Jones roams pre-snap, probing the offense for weaknesses and is versatile enough to play either 4-3 WLB or 3-4 ILB and even 'Mike' in a Tampa 2 base defense.
Weaknesses: Can he play MLB in most 4-3 defenses, can he hold 240+ pounds? We don't know, these are not overwhelming concerns but they are legitimate."
A match-up concern against power backs or bigger tight ends, he must continue to bulk up before going to the next level. Jones will be highly considered by teams using a 3-4 defense as a ILB.
He has an incredible vision and ability to play from sideline to sideline with speed and tenacity.
Jones is a humble player who is a natural leader that plays with passion on the field.
He has great anticipation in diagnosing plays and can single-handedly stop a play on his own.
While he is an effective blitzer, his lack of size can work against him inside the trenches since he can be overpowered. Jones flows naturally to the ball and plays within his assignments very successfully. He is considered among the nation's best at his position and likely a mid-to-late first round selection."
I'm a big fan of Greg Jones.
He brings exceptional Diagnostic Skills + Processing Speed to the table, but that's about it.
He's not particularly Quick, or Fast, or very Fluid in his Breaks.
Nor is he particularly Strong at the Point of Attack.
His Stock has actually plummeted quite precipitously since September, as he is a former borderline 1st Rounder who is now projected for the 3rd. And yet his is still Over Rated, in my view.
Greg Jones projects to be a Reserve, to my Lying Eyes.
Frankly, I hope I'm wrong. And I may very well be.
And I will also add: If I'm right, whoever gets him will get an invaluable Reserve.
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