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2014 NFL Draft: Prospect Profile -- Christian Jones, OLB, Florida State

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The Giants need a linebacker, and they like taking athletes from the ACC. Could that mean that athletic Florida State linebacker could a Giant come May? Let's take a look.

Linebacker Christian Jones after scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery.
Linebacker Christian Jones after scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery.
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The New York Giants' defense played well in 2013. Despite lacking a consistent pass rush, the defensive line was stout, and the secondary was solid. However, even with the addition of MLB Jon Beason, the Giants' linebacking corps remained... Anemic.

The "Bigger Butts" up front, as DC Perry Fewell humorously referred to his beefed up defensive line, did a great job of protecting the linebackers, keeping offensive linemen off of them and allowing them to play freely. However, athletic (and scheme) limitations meant that the shallow middle of the field was often easy pickings for offenses with the personnel to exploit it. As well, those same athletic limitations limited the Giants' ability to blitz and manufacture a pass rush.

With that in mind, let's take a look at Florida State's versatile and athletic defender, Christian Jones

Pros

- Highly athletic defender

- Long lean frame, with a strong blend of height, weight, and speed

- Versatile, playing outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and defensive end as needed by FSU.

- Smooth and fluid in coverage.

- Generally uses his length well in all facets of his game

- Flashes the strength to take on and shed blockers

Cons

- Frequent change of position could create questions as to what his natural position is.

- His height sometimes works against him and he plays too upright. He can lose leverage going forward and sometimes be too upright in coverage.

- While he was a pretty effective pass rusher at DE, he hasn't shown much rushing the passer as a linebacker (Scheme changes could be the issue here)

- Production dropped his senior season (again, scheme and position changes need to be taken into account

Does He Fit With The Giants?

I think so. The Giants value versatility, and Jones has it in spades. Or possibly diamonds... Whatever the suit, he's flush with versatility. Given the needs on the Giants defense, and their love of sub-packages (particularly the three-safety set), a player as athletic and versatile as Jones should fit right in. I could see situations where he is playing an OLB position, then kicking inside to play MLB when Beason is subbed out for a safety.

Jones' coverage ability would also fit in well in the NFCE, with all the underneath threats the other three offenses employ. Jones was asked to cover slot receivers in college. He likely wouldn't be asked to do that in the NFL, however he should be able to cover most tight ends or running backs along with Jacquian Williams.

Prospect Video

Christian Jones (LB, FSU) vs Clemson 2012 (via Aimal Arsalla)

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 41

Mocking The Draft - 60

CBS Sports - 125

Draft Countdown - Not Ranked

Draft Tek - 68

Final Thoughts

Christian Jones is an interesting prospect. He could suffer from "Man Without a Position" syndrome. He is too small to be a defensive end, he hasn't shown an ability to rush the passer standing up (I don't mean to say that he CAN'T. Just that for whatever reason he hasn't shown a great ability to do it). He doesn't look like an every-down NFL MIKE linebacker either.

I believe his home is as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 front (ie: What the Giants employ). Whether you label him a strong-side or a weak-side linebacker is a bit irrelevant. I think he can play either role, and honestly, and given the evolving nature of offenses and defenses, it might not matter much whether you call a guy a SAM or a WILL.

However, he played his final year at FSU as a defensive end, and is listed by CBSSports as a MLB. If that his how NFL scouts and GM's view him, he might slip in the draft.