NCAA

Despite His Stature, LSU’s Deion Jones Can Play In The NFL

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219.

That isn’t the number you’d expect next to a potential NFL linebacker’s name, but that is exactly what you get when you glance at how much the former LSU star, Deion Jones, weighs. That number is one that will follow him around throughout this draft process. Questions like, will he be able to survive at such a high contact position or does he have enough led in his pants to take on blocks, will permeate discussions and scouting reports about him.

However, when you look at Jones on the field, you will see that his lack of size helps him more than it hurts him. The main way it helps the former LSU linebacker is in regards to his speed and change of direction. He has the ability to flow to the ball extremely quickly and he has the rare ability to cover running backs, tight ends and even receivers if he was called upon to do so for a play here or there. That type of skills is one that should be coveted in today’s NFL. One that deploys three wide receiver sets like they Snickers bars on Halloween should love a linebacker than can play against the run just as well as he can play against the pass.

Despite the fact that speed is his best trait, Jones knows that he brings other assets to the table.

“I think speed is a big part of my game and, you know, I also have some other attributes,” Jones said. “I think I’m a pretty physical guy. And I think I have some knowledge of the game.”

Even though that he has shown that he can hold up in the most physical conference in college football, there will still be a ton of questions as to whether he can have similar success in the NFL. Thus, it will likely cause him to have to fight and claw his way into a starting role on a roster. Nonetheless, this isn’t something he hasn’t gone through before. He had to do something similar at LSU.

“It was a little heartbreaking at first [Not getting a lot of playing time when he arrived at LSU]. I found my way on the field, you know, not sitting back and pouting. I found my way on special teams and took my time there. I competed with the guys in front of me and tried to get those guys better, better myself and learn from them. Then when I finally got my shot, you know, I took it and ran with it and made the best of it.”

Luckily for Jones, there have been a few players that have paved the way for a player of his stature to be successful in the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ Telvin Smith has proven that speed can make up for bulk in the running game. Also, Jones’ former teammate, Kwon Alexander, had a fantastic rookie year, despite being of similar size to Jones.

Now, this doesn’t mean that Jones’ size doesn’t have its drawbacks. He tends to get engulfed by blocks and he has a tendency to allow a yard or two after contact when he is at the point of attack; however, those questions pale in comparison to Jones’ ability to make plays and cover.

There is an old-school style of thinking that permeates the NFL; despite that there is a new way of playing it. New body types and skill sets better fit what the NFL is doing today rather than what it was doing 10 years ago. Jones is that new body type and skill set and whatever franchises realizes that is going to get a heck of a player and you’ll never hear anybody complain about the number that pops up when Jones jumps on the scale again.

 


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com