First-round pick Jarvis Jones is a great fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers and this goes beyond filling a need after the release of James Harrison. Jones is at his best when the defense is blitzing, and there are few defenses more aggressive than the Steelers'.
Last season, the Steelers sent five or more pass-rushers 39.2 percent of the time, which ranked fifth in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only the Texans, Cardinals, Packers and Colts blitzed more often.
This bodes well for Jones. Of his nation-leading 14.5 sacks last season, nearly half (seven) came when Georgia blitzed. That was the most by any player rated 75 or higher by Scouts Inc.
Jones doesn't expect a big transition period to the Steelers' defense.
"For myself, I played in a 3-4 system in college," Jones said during Pittsburgh's rookie minicamp. "It’s a lot of the same stuff but with different terminology. They do it a little different than we did in college. The concept, I kind of get it. I think our coaches are great teachers in the classroom as well as coaching us on the field and putting us in the right position to make plays."
Jones is expected to replace Harrison, but don't expect the same speed bull rush. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Jones recorded 11 of his sacks on finesse moves (speed, spin or twist). That being said, Jones can't solely rely on his speed. A big responsibility for Steelers outside linebackers is to establish the edge.
Although Jason Worilds has more experience with the Steelers' defense, Jones is still considered the favorite to win the starting job. This would go against recent history for the franchise. Since the Steelers selected Heath Miller eight years ago, only one first-round pick (center Maurkice Pouncey) was an immediate starter for Pittsburgh.
Asked if he expected to start the Sept. 8 season opener against Tennessee, Jones said: "That’s a long way from now. The most important thing is for me to come out here, try to get in the best shape I can, learn this system and do what my coaches ask me to do. They’re going to make that decision. It’s not up to me so I’m just going to come out here and give it everything I’ve got. At the end of the day, they’re going to make the final decision."