We are really leaving no stone unturned as we scour the prospects of the 2011 NFL Draft for a possible upgrade at linebacker. We now travel to Sparta (don't stand next to any bottomless pits).
The Spartan under review is Greg Jones. Jones was a ridicuously productive player at Michigan State from day one. He led them in tackles as a freshman. He was also the first MSU player since 1966 to be a consensus first team All-American two years in a row. He is the kind of player whose production outweighs his athleticism.
He measures just over 6' and weighs in at 240 pounds. At the Combine he ran a 4.75 40, 31.5" vert, a 9'9" broad jump and put up 21 reps on the bench. I am sure you'll be shocked to hear he projects as a third to fifth-round selection.
Jones is probably going to be closer to that fifth-round projection after his lackluster Combine followed a lackluster Senior Bowl. This comes to us via ESPN:
Jones' missed tackle on Tulsa RB Charles Clay showed his limitations and the concerns we have about him in the open field. He needs to do a better job of breaking down and taking better angles. He has not had a great week.
Jones spent time at all linebacker positions while at Michigan State. However, given that last report, and the ones you'll see after the jump, he sounds like a better fit for the It looks to me like he would be a inside in the NFL.
Jones has been one of the most productive linebackers in college football over the last few seasons. He fits as a starting middle linebacker in a Tampa-2 or great backup with special teams upside. Displays outstanding effort and is fearless on the field but is always fighting to overcome his lack of size and strength. Flies around the field, whether pursuing the ball-carrier, rushing the passer, or dropping into coverage, but doesn't possess ideal speed or athleticism for a Tampa-2 'backer. A lot of coaching staffs would love to bring Jones' work ethic and intangibles into their locker room.
An undersized, instinctive middle linebacker who does a great job deciphering information inside quickly, flowing toward the football and breaking down on contact. Exhibits solid short-area quickness when asked to side step blockers, all while maintaining his balance and keeping himself in position to make a play.
Isn't much of a playmaker on the football in the pass game because of his limitation athletically and will struggle to run down the seam at the next level. Will bite on play fakes at times and take a false step away from the throw, but works hard in pursuit and consistently is able to put himself around the action.
Impression: Has added some weight as a senior and doesn't look as fluid or explosive as he did earlier in his career. Has the ability to find and tackle the football inside, but is a very average NFL linebacker from both a physical/athletic standpoint. Has the ability to come in and make a roster, but don't see him as a starter.
Finally, we will go to Yahoos' Doug Farrar:
If Jones is going to stay inside in the pros, I see him doing so with a team that uses a lot of nickel sets that require the man in the middle to do more chasing than hitting. Like the Colts' linebackers (Gary Brackett and Clint Session) and players in certain sets for teams like the Jaguars. Saints and Seahawks, Jones will be most effective in situations where he can use his intelligence and athleticism to overcome any power deficits. Jones' ideal fit may be as a hybrid 'backer in 4-3 and 4-2 fronts, where he helps finish off collisions more than he creates them.
The kicker on this report is their NFL comparison for Jones is none other than Captain Kirk Morrison. So, there you go. We have a very productive player who is limited athletically and in size. He is another hard-worker with solid instincts and another mid-round selection. I'll let Jones take us out.