Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones is the Pittsburgh Steelers first linebacker selected in the first round since Lawrence Timmons in 2007 and the first outside linebacker they have picked since Huey Richardson in 1991, one of the teams biggest busts ever.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin believe Jones will change that history.
Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert Transcript provided by Steelers.com:
General Manager Kevin Colbert: Once again, we’re very pleased to have a player like Jarvis Jones available for us at the 17th pick. He definitely was one of the guys that I talked about the other day as being a special player in this draft. He’s a solid kid. He’s a great player. He’s productive at a major college level. In fact, he’s been dominant at the major college level. He plays the run, he chases the ball, and most important he gets after the passer, a highly productive pass rusher in one of the best conferences in the country. It’s really just a great honor to have this kid joining our team. We’re really excited about it.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin: I share those thoughts and feelings with Kevin in regards to the excitement. It really was a fun and easy evaluation. When you look at the outside linebackers in the 3-4 defenses, generally there is some projection and so forth involved in the evaluation. This was an easy evaluation from that standpoint. He plays in a very similar scheme, he’s asked to do things in a manner in which he’ll be asked to do it here in Pittsburgh, very little guesswork in that regard made it a fun evaluation and made it a comfortable evaluation. He excelled in what they asked him to do and he’ll be asked to do similar things here. So, all in all, we’re just very thankful and very excited to have Jarvis.
Was this one of those scenarios where you guys were surprised he fell to you?
KC: Not so much surprised. I didn’t know if he would make it because he was one of the guys that we thought was special. Again, with the 3-4 defense, it kind of cuts the market in half as to who is looking for this type of player. So, we knew there was a chance, we were hoping there was a chance, that’s certainly the truth. Jarvis didn’t work out at the combine. When he worked out at his pro day and he ran the 4.9 we were happy because we knew that we had a chance. We didn’t even talk to Jarvis at the combine because we didn’t think there was any chance that he’d get to us. When he ran the 4.9, the first thing I did was go over and see his agent and set up the visit because I knew that we had a chance. Then he continued with the workout and it was off the charts impressive. It just verified what we thought of him in college. This kid, when you watch him play, I don’t care what he runs. He’s a football player in every phase of the game and that was what was really exciting. When the time wasn’t quite what others were looking for, we were excited.
MT: When Kevin talked earlier about acknowledging six to eight special guys or guys with special characteristics, he was in that group. So, to get him at 17, obviously, we’re excited.
Did your medical staff check him out during his visits?
KC: Absolutely. There was no problem. The kid has played two seasons without an issue at the University of Georgia. Of course, he has to go through a physical and just to be sure we made another check when he came in. Certainly we’re very comfortable with his medical status or we wouldn’t have made that pick.
Re: How his playing style fits:
MT: He plays the game with a certain disposition that we value, a certain demeanor that we value. Whether he’s making a tackle or confronting a block, he does it in a manner that we appreciate. He’ll fit in great with our group.
Re: His composure:
MT: He’s been through a lot. He’s been to the West coast and back. He’s dealt with an injury that could’ve potentially put his career in question. He’s been through a lot. Kevin and I remarked at his pro day that he moved around then like a veteran player, he did. That doesn’t mean that he’s not a rookie, he’s going to be a rookie and he’ll go through the same thing rookies go through. We’re not going to take anything for granted in terms of his growth and development. He did have a mature demeanor around him and it’s probably because of his life experiences.
Re: His fit in this defense:
MT: There’s been a few times where he put his hand on the ground, but predominantly he’s a two-point stance player. He also plays a little bit of rover for them, where he’ll stack and play at the linebacker level and in some sub package stuff, like we’ve done with our outside linebackers in the past. That’s what I was referring to earlier when I said it was an easy and comfortable evaluation.