Let's continue our 2011 NFL Draft prospect profile series with a look at another linebacker who might be on the New York Giants' radar screen.
Greg Jones of Michigan State is a player who had a tremendously productive career, but who raised some questions with a disappointing week at the recent Senior Bowl. Head coaches ca, of course, be biased about their own players. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio thinks Jones is "a very unique individual" who's "going to be very successful in the NFL."
Here is more of what Dantonio said about Jones, who projects either to the middle or weak side in a 4-3 NFL defense.
"I think he's a great pass rusher," Dantonio said. "He's played outside (and inside). He'll run well and jump well. But I think he's an instinctive player, and his strengths are rushing the passer. We moved him around to do all those type of things. ...
"I'm not the expert; I just think the ability to tackle and play in space is so crucial -- and getting off of blocks," Dantonio said. "That's what he can do."
Scouting reports after the jump.
MLB, Michigan State
6-foot-1, 240 pounds
Prjoection: Round 2 or 3
From Draft Countdown:
- Athletic w/ good speed, quickness, agility and burst
- Excellent instincts and awareness with nose for ball
- Very reliable tackler in the hole as well as in space
- Is active and real aggressive with a non-stop motor
- Does a terrific job in pursuit and closes in a hurry
- Outstanding range and can flow sideline-to-sideline
- Shows the ability to work through trash and traffic
- Is fluid and comfortable when dropping into coverage
- Able to get the job done as a pass rusher and blitzer
- Tough, durable and will play through pain / injuries
- Excelled on special teams and can contribute there
- Top work ethic and a demonstrative, respected leader
- Extremely productive with a lot of quality experience
- Does not have the ideal height or bulk you look for
- Not particularly strong or physical and lacks power
- Can be too assertive and will take some poor angles
- Struggles when forced to take on and shed blockers
- Never able to make many impact plays in coverage
Racked up double-digit tackles in a game twenty times during college career --- Could project to either the middle or weakside at the next level and best fit will most likely come in a 4-3 scheme --- Talented prospect who possesses the physical tools, intangibles and all-around game to win a starting job in the NFL.
From Mocking The Draft:
Coverage: Jones is only above-average when he's asked to cover receivers. Because he doesn't have great deep speed, he's better in short area zone coverage than man-to-man.
Instincts: Jones is incredibly instinctive. He's a read and react linebacker who gets after the ball. Makes his read and gets after the ball on run plays.
Pass rush: Gets at the quarterback more than his stats may indicate. Although he sometimes has trouble on blocks, Jones closes when he has an open lane to rush.
Pursuit: Jones could become a real terror if he learns better pursuit angles.
Run defense: Has a tendency to get pushed around in run support. Needs to do a better job disengaging from blockers. Has been wildly productive because he reads the play quickly and gets after the ball carrier. Solid against the outside and inside run. Shows enough athleticism to move sideline-to-sideline.
Tackling: Jones is a good hit-and-wrap tackler but he doesn't have a lot of pop on his hits. Rarely gets off his feet when making a tackle.
Final word: Jones is the kind of player an NFL coach will love. He's started since his true freshman season, first at the strong side before moving inside his sophomore year. Jones also plays on punt and kickoff coverage and has led the team in tackles four straight years.
As a linebacker prospect, Jones is solid. No areas of his game really are spectacular. But he's also not a detriment in any area that can't be made better as a professional. He's improved physically every year he's been at Michigan State and still has plenty of room to grow.
Jones doesn't represent the sexiest of linebacker picks, but he's a solid second-round choice who will make an impact early in his career.