Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones did something no outside linebacker has in Dick LeBeau's Steelers' defense; he started multiple games as a rookie.
The downside to that is he often proved why rookies don't start at that position in LeBeau's defense. The good news is, though, he's 24 years old, and with a year experience beneath him, he has a lot of upward motivation to break out in 2014.
Pro Football Focus's Steve Palazzolo takes readers through Jones's season, showing a few of his memorable plays. On the bright side, he points out some success he had against All Pro left tackle Joe Thomas. He also points out how he was beat in coverage by Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, and his first time meeting Thomas, when the Browns' bookend tackle shut him out.
We'd have to agree with his general statement:
Jones’ ability against the run was a good sign in Year 1, particularly with some showing concerns about his size coming out of college. Like the other players on this list, it’s his pass rushing ability to determine his fate, and he certainly has some work to do in order to take the next step in that department.
Jones showed great instincts for the position, and regardless of the media-fueled overrated hype of having played the system in college, an outside linebacker role in an NFL 3-4 defense takes time to learn. His size was also a factor, but as you can see in Palazzolo's clips, he instinctively finds the ball, and he found a way of slithering past blockers. When he adds some more bulk and gets some more strength under his pads, he'll be able to put together a more complete arsenal of skills.
It's at that point Jones will turn into the kind of player the Steelers expected him to be when they selected him with the 17th overall pick last year.