In 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers used the 17th overall pick in the draft to select a highly touted, blue-chip pass rusher from the University of Georgia. Jarvis Jones, a two-time All-American and reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, was viewed by the Steelers as a way to help bridge the gap between the old Steelers and the new. With James Harrison in Cincinnati, Jones and Jason Worilds tag-team the right outside linebacker position and help restore what used to be one of the team's strongest positions.
The last time Jones played on the carpet in the Georgia Dome was in the Bulldogs' 32-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game. Alabama's run game dominated Georgia, but the Bulldogs would respond to defeat Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, Jones's last collegiate game.
It wasn't the best Pro Day workout for Jones (he skipped the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine), and that highlighted a chief concern of his; production or not, he didn't measure out to be among the top athletes at a highly athletic position. But the plus side for him had always been his production. Some of the lack of production he's had so far in his career can be attributed to the lack of diversity in his pass rush moves as well as a lack of ideal length and quickness.
Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons having excellent season.
No one can question his motor, though. There was little technique and a lot of effort on Jones' part getting to Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for a sack-forced fumble in Week 3. Jones' wrist was caught awkwardly on the play somewhere between Newton and defensive end Brett Keisel, and surgery would follow, along with a nine-game absence.
In his return last week against the Bengals, Jones played 34 snaps, compared to Arther Moats' 31, per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Jones was credited with one quarterback hurry to go along with his two tackles, while Moats had the most impactful game on the defensive side, registering a pair of sacks and four tackles, as well as a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, which marked the turning point of the game.
Moats was signed to a one-year deal worth $785,000 in March. The sixth-round pick from James Madison University has been one of the lone bright spots on the Steelers this season, with his four sacks placing him third on the team in that category. Meanwhile Jones, a first-round pick, has yet to contribute in such a manner.
With James Harrison still questionable for Sunday's game against Atlanta, Jones is poised to see a huge increase in snaps. His surgically-repaired wrist apparently doing better, Jones will look to get his career back on the right track in a game with huge implications for both Pittsburgh and the Falcons.
The vulnerable pass defense of the Steelers could use the boost of an additional pass-rusher, and a healthy Jones certainly has the potential to be just that.