Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan St., 6’1 240
Position ranking: #1
Strengths: Greg Jones has the athleticism that NFL teams covet at the linebacker position. He shows very good burst when releasing to pursue the ballcarrier. Quick footed and plays balanced when sifting and scraping away from potential blockers. Attacks the line of scrimmage on isolation runs with no hesitation. A clean wrap-up tackler who shows the propensity to quickly break down in space, square shoulders, wrap arms and drive inside to make sure tackles. Gap disciplined and shows very good key and diagnose recognition–Good instincts. Shows value as a pass rusher with good initial quickness off the line of scrimmage and a quick closing burst to get on top of the quarterback. Also shows a sharp spin move on outside pass rush. Jones shows good depth when asked to drop into zone coverage and looks to have the hips to turn and run with tight ends and tailbacks. A three year starter and leader of the defense.
Needs Improvement: Doesn’t have great size to stay inside at the pro level. Has worked to add weight from last season, but hasn’t improved strength enough in his upper body to consistently disengage from lineman. Depends on athleticism, needs to work on technique when taking on lineman, prefers to avoid front face contact. Has good but not great speed to get to the sideline and can be late at times to pursue from his inside containment. After initial momentum is stopped has a hard time getting himself back in the play. Will be overaggressive and overpursue or bite on the quick play-fake at times, but has shown improvement.
Bottom Line: Greg Jones is the best inside linebacker in what is shaping out to be an average class. He has improved every year that he’s played and shows small improvements game to game which is sure to impress teams about his work habits. Has the ideal combination of pure athleticism and instincts for the position but lacks the great strength and size we see from the elite inside linebackers at the NFL level. His skill set and abilities may be best suited as a weakside linebacker in a 4-3 where I believe he could flourish. Has upside as a pass rusher and can be a real weapon in this area if used correctly. Jones has stayed relatively healthy throughout his career despite his physical play. His coverage skills are above adequate and improving. A team will be glad to have Jones, and as long as he continues to stay healthy, he should be a long time starter in the NFL.
Draft projection: 2nd round