I was aware of how the Pittsburgh Steelers rarely start rookies. Since the Steelers selected tight end Heath Miller eight years ago, only one first-round pick (center Maurkice Pouncey) was an immediate starter for Pittsburgh.
But I didn't realize how long it's been since the Steelers put a rookie in the starting lineup on defense. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette provided an eye-opening history lesson on this subject.
The last rookies to start on the Steelers' defense were nose tackle Casey Hampton and inside linebacker Kendrell Bell, both of whom did it in 2001. Hampton became a five-time Pro Bowl player while Bell only lasted four seasons in Pittsburgh.
The only rookie to start at outside linebacker for the Steelers since 1970 has been Jack Ham. That was in 1971. To put it in perspective, that was the second year for Three Rivers Stadium, which is currently a parking lot.
While the odds seem stacked against Jarvis Jones, he isn't battling history. He just has to beat out Jason Worilds, an underachieving second-round pick from 2010. The Steelers didn't show much faith in Worilds when they tried to restructure James Harrison's contract (instead of just cutting him immediately) and used the No. 17 overall pick on Jones in April.
As the Steelers wrap up their offseason spring workouts today, Jones has stood out to the coaching staff.
"He's showing us things, and, if he keeps showing those things he's going to be a big part of that, hopefully," linebackers coach Keith Butler said. "The best thing for him is his background, he played linebacker at Georgia, so he understands concepts as opposed to being a defensive end who doesn't know anything. He's picked some things up. There's a lot we're throwing at him right now, as we do everybody. He's still learning, but he's learning at a quicker pace than most guys we drafted at that position as a defensive end."