If Steelers UDFA Howard Jones is confused, it's not his fault

Linebacker prospect Howard Jones from Division II Shepherd opened eyes at the Combine with his overall athleticism. - Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

He's changed sides of the ball, positions and has undergone significant weight changes in his time at Division II Shephard University. Now, he's in Pittsburgh, looking to establish himself as a future edge rusher with the Steelers.

You'll have to forgive Steelers undrafted free agent Howard Jones if he's a little confused.

The Division II defensive end was recruited to play wide receiver before getting moved to outside linebacker, en route to breaking Shepherd University's all time sacks record with 34.5.

They tell him he's undersized after packing on 50 pounds in the last four years - he weighed in at 235 after starting his receiving career at 185.

He ran a 4.54 40-yard dash time at the Combine, but wasn't drafted.

He ended up in Pittsburgh as part of the rebuilding Run-and-Hit Defense the Steelers are looking to employ. And maybe that's the part of Jones' journey that makes the most sense. His speed and explosion off the edge is more than intriguing for a coaching staff with experience utilizing such players.

Jones probably blew past all his teammates in sprinting drills, but now, he may not even be able to outrun all of his fellow linebackers. Perhaps that's the kind of lead-horse mentality he needs; both to push himself as well as push those around him.

Speed isn't the issue and it certainly won't be. The problem is with technique. Not only does he lack position experience (he was moved to defensive end), but he lacks defensive experience - let alone high-end competition experience.

Jones has the make-up of a special teams ace and, with a lot of work, could end up being another Steelers UDFA find, not to mention the first Division II player to make a Steelers roster since Ricardo Colclough in 2004. But as Colclough proved, it's more than just the physical make-up.

His exposure to the Steelers in rookie minicamp will go a long way in determining whether he's a legitimate candidate to stick with the Steelers this season, likely as a member of its practice squad.

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