Hello Giants fans! Today's player profile is on a guy we should all keep a close eye on this year. Last year Greg Jones was a rookie out of Michigan State, drafted in the sixth round and was considered a steal by many. Jones was thrown into the fire when Jon Goff went down with a season ending ACL injury. While he was no means a success at the MIKE spot, he showed his worth by being a great contributor on Special Teams. This year, Jones has been moved to the outside, which was his original college position. The word out of camp has been that Jones has thrived since his move, and is looking to be a valuable asset to the Giants by knowing all the Linebacker positions.
Yeah, I'd be excited if I was on a Superbowl winning team as well. And while I'm glad Greg Jones started off his career with an astounding Superbowl win, I can only hope that this isn't his best moment as a New York Giant. Hopefully this guy leaves New York with a lot of rings on his fingers.
In his Freshman year, Greg Jones was named First Team Freshman All-American, impacting Michigan State in a big way. Jones led his team with 78 tackles in 2007, being the first freshman Spartan to do that since the seventies. Greg Jones played in all 13 games as a freshman, making seven starts at the SAM position. He averaged 7.3 tackles per game as a starter, and also contributed to the Spartan's Special Teams by making twelve tackles all on kickoff coverage. He also ranked third on his team in sacks, recording 4.5 for a loss of 25 total yards. Now all of this came just his Freshman year.
In 2008, Greg Jones was named to the First Team All-Big Ten by the leagues coaches. He started all 13 games, playing 8 at the SAM position and 5 at the MIKE. Once again he led the Spartans in tackles, this time recording 127 tackles, 80 of them solo. He ranked third in tackles in the Big Ten, and was ranked seventeenth nationally. This season he was able to average 9.8 tackles per game. Pretty impressive.
His Junior year, Jones was named as a consensus First Team All American. He was given the 2009 Linebacker Trophy and named National Linebacker of the Year by College Football Performance Awards. He was a semifinalist for both Butkus and Bednarik Awards, and was selected as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year by the leagues media panel. He was the first Spartan to ever win this award. He racked up an astounding 154 tackles in 2009, causing me to wonder if there was anybody else playing defense over at Michigan State. He also recorded a career high 9 sacks this particular season due to him spending more time at the SAM position.
In his final season as a Spartan, he was once again a consensus First Team All American, this time chosen unanimously. He was once again given All-Big Ten honors, this being the third consecutive year he earned this title. He was chosen as team MVP, leading the team with 106 tackles. He recorded 20 tackles for a loss and caused three forced fumbles. Jones spent a lot more time at MIKE this season, causing his production to dip a little in his final year. But only a little.
Due to an ACL injury to Jon Goff, Greg Jones took over the MIKE spot as a rookie. With no training camp and very little familiarity with the Giants defense, Greg Jones did not look good as a starter. He was quickly demoted from starting duties and was strictly a Special Teams player. He made 38 tackles on the year, but a lot of them came from kickoff and punt coverage.
Greg Jones' Combine wasn't all the impressive, but to be fair it wasn't all that bad either. He ran a 4.80 40 yard dash and showed decent quickness and explosiveness in his agility drills. He put up an average 21 reps on the bench press. I thought he looked a little stiff in the hips on some of his drills, but I'm not a pro scout. See for yourself.
After his Combine Jones was considered a possible 2nd-4th Round prospect, but for some reason he feel into the 6th round despite a decent Combine and a very successful college career.
Why He Fell
I'd love to give you a long, drawn out analysis of why Greg Jones wasn't picked much earlier than what he was. Honestly though, I can't. Jones was an impressive, aggressive player in college with no injury history and no character concerns. Sure he is a little short for NFL standards, standing at about six feet even, but was by no means a small guy because he weighed in at 242 during his Combine. He's not the fastest guy in the world, but if you watched him play at Michigan State you can see his instincts more than make up for being a little slow. While he isn't all that great in pass coverage, I think that I'll chalk it up to Michigan State not being a huge prospect producing school and maybe a little bit of oversight on the part of NFL GM's and scouts. Whatever the reason, Reese got a very nice deal in snagging Greg Jones as late as he did.
How He Can Make an Impact
The Giants Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell seemed to read the minds of some Giants fans that thought Jones would be much better returning to his natural SAM/outside backer position. From what I've heard he's taken snaps at both SAM and WILL positions, but seeing as the WILL spot already has plenty of competition I'd imagine Jones will be a SAM in our defense for the most part. All reports on Jones this year say he's looking much better playing the outside then he did at MIKE last year. Still, Jones has been taking reps at MIKE just so that he is well versed with all the Linebacker positions and by doing so is more valuable to the team since he's a complete player. Here's a Coughlin quote on what he's seen from Jones in camp this year.
"He has practiced well for a couple of days ever since camp has opened. He runs well and appears to be around the ball. He can play inside and play outside."
I'll take that. Jones has even reportedly been given a talking to by some of the coaches for being too physical with the Running Backs in drills/practices where there is supposed to be little to no contact. As long as he doesn't hurt our guys, I'm completely fine with a Linebacker that loves to hit. Jones apparently seems confident that he can step up and be an asset to the Giants this year, here's a short clip of Jones speaking after a day of camp this year.
Jones seems ready to play this year, and by all accounts it sounds like the coaches are expecting him to shake off the rookie mistakes from last year and play up to his potential.
I think a big reason Jones can have an impact on our team this year is due to the fact that he's moving back to the SAM spot this year, which is much more natural for him. At Michigan State a lot of Jones' production came from the SAM spot, and while he was still making plays as a MIKE, he just seems to be more comfortable on the outside. And as most of us know, the depth at SAM isn't all that great right now. Sure a versatile guy like Rivers might be able to contribute there, we're probably going to see him as more of a WILL/MIKE type for right now. Mathias Kiwanuka is the starting SAM as of right now. We know the Giants like to move Kiwi around and there is a very good chance that Kiwanuka is going to be taking a good deal of snaps at the Defensive End position. Also it's important to note that while Kiwi looked great last year he did have a bad neck injury the year before and I'm sure the Giants coaching staff is keeping that in the back of their mind. So with Kiwi moving around and being more of a joker type player there is a real opportunity for Jones to step up as a true SAM for the Giants defense. While I don't exactly expect him to start this year, it'd be good for Jones to see a good deal of snaps at the SAM position.
There is a chance that Jones doesn't get the amount of snaps that I hope he does, but even then we will still be seeing some contribution from number 53. Last year Jones was a very good Special Teams player and he along with a few others were the main reason I wasn't exactly worried sick about kicking off or punting to the opposing team. And now that Tyler Sash is suspended for four games, I really hope that Jones can be a great Special Teams player this year. With solid tackling skills and a desire for contact, I'm sure we'll be seeing Jones making a lot of plays as far as Special Teams are concerned.
This first video is of Jones against Wisconsin, mostly playing the MIKE spot but also making some plays at the SAM. One of the biggest positives that I saw in this video is that Jones can blitz. I know the Giants don't really run a lot of Linebacker blitzes, but they haven't really had any guys that are amazing pass rushers either. Jones gets pressure from both SAM and MIKE spots in this video, and I really like that. As for negatives, one of the biggest knocks on Jones is that he can't really shed blocks. I'm not sure if I entirely agree with that. While it does seem that he gets caught up in the wash a little bit I don't think he necessarily is a weak guy that gets overpowered by Lineman. There are a few plays where he gets off blocks pretty well. Now that he's on the outside we should see a lot less of him getting caught up in the middle and becoming turned around. It'd also do well to keep in mind the fact that Michigan State was playing against one of the best Offensive Lines in the nation.
Now I've really tried to find some videos of Jones playing SAM, but I haven't really been able to. Now in this next video he takes a few snaps at SAM, but for the most part it's just because Michigan State liked to utilize him as a pass rusher. Here against Alabama Jones does a below average job against the combo of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Now Alabama was a hell of a team so I'm not surprised that their Offense got the better of him at times, but he's in the NFL now so no excuses. I think this Alabama video is a great example of why Jones should be playing on the outside. He doesn't seem comfortable playing MIKE and having to read both sides of the field. At SAM he will be able to control his side of the field and be more effective by having a smaller amount of yardage he's responsible for. I'm also not a huge fan of his pass coverage ability, which is fine for a SAM in our defense. I will commend Jones for this though, at about the 3:45 mark in this video Jones realizes that Greg McElroy is a QB that likes to scramble and run so instead of abandoning the middle he watches the Quarterback and prevents him from getting a huge gain. Now while the call may have had him as a QB spy, it's hard to completely ignore all the Receivers running routes behind you. Also if you listen to the announcers on the very next play they have some very nice things to say about Jones. Take that however you want though.
And how could I NOT put this in a Player Profile about Greg Jones? He may not have taken a knee, but hey the man just won a Superbowl.
I think that Jones has a chance to make a splash on our defense either this year or next, especially since he's playing the SAM position. Hopefully Fewell is able to harness his pass rush abilities and use him to come in behind our fearsome Defensive Line and layeth the smackdown on some NFL Quarterbacks. Even if he never turns out to be anything special on our defense, he'll probably stick around as a Special Teams guy that is a valuable backup since he knows all three Linebacker positions.