Deion Jones is probably the most athletic linebacker in this year’s draft class. With Dan Quinn’s noticeable love for great athletes and physical players, it is no surprise they went with Jones to help with a linebacking core that has been one of the league’s worst units over the past few seasons. Jones performed well at the combine in the 40-yard dash, running a 4.59. However, he made jaws drop on his pro day when he clocked in at 4.38, which is by far the fastest by a linebacker in this year’s draft class.
Jones spent his first two seasons at LSU as a special-teams superstar. He led the Tigers special-teams unit and received spot minutes on defense, backing up the likes of Kwon Alexander. By the time his senior season rolled around, it was finally time for Deion Jones to get his shot as a starter and he certainly did not disappoint. He recorded 100 tackles, including 13.5 behind the line of scrimmage. He also had 5 sacks and 2 interceptions, as he proved to be a playmaker for the Tiger’s defense on his way to the defensive MVP award.
Jones’s speed is really the X-factor in his game. It gives him terrific sideline to sideline range when tackling ball carriers and also makes him a more than viable coverage linebacker. His hands allow him to not just break up passes but possibly even pick them off. There are certainly questions about the size of Jones. At 228 pounds, he is undersized for a linebacker in the NFL, but he is great with his pads and can deliver ferocious hits. He also plays the game under control and is rarely caught out of position.
The Falcons needed to get faster and more athletic in their linebacking core. Jones does just that and should be able to be a major contributor on defense in his rookie season. His experience as a special teams player also could prove to be valuable in his early seasons. Jones is the type of player Quinn can move all over the field because of his athleticism. At times he may be playing linebacker, other times Jones could be lined up as a pass rusher or even a safety. This type of player gives defensive masterminds like Quinn a lot of options to work with. Jon Gruden likes to call players “jokers” on offense, Deion Jones could be the “joker” of the Falcons defense as it continues to be revamped.