Free agency has come and is pretty much behind the Atlanta Falcons at this point. There are still glaring holes on the team at this very moment and one hole in particular is at the linebacker position. Based on the goal of head coach Dan Quinn and the rest of the team, an important objective is to get “fast and physical”.
Ohio State’s Darron Lee is the frontrunner now as a popular Falcons pick in the first round but what if that option is taken away? Who can the Falcons fall back on? Jones and his athleticism can be a major asset and is a definite possibility to be a Falcons draft pick. Here is his scouting report:
LB Deion Jones, LSU
Weight: 226 lbs
Strengths: First and foremost, the athleticism of Jones is matched by few linebackers in the NFL draft. At 6’1, Jones is a quick-twitch athlete with a chiseled frame. The size (226 lbs) will scare off some coaches and teams however, Jones makes it work most of the times due to his fluid hips and athleticism. Recently, Jones ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at his Pro Day which was up from a 4.5 that he ran at the NFL Combine.
The linebacker also showed off his hops with a 35 inch vertical. With that size and athleticism, Jones is able to roam from sideline to sideline. Jones is solid in run defense at times as he reads the play and attacks the hole to meet the ball carrier. Jones also has the ability to provide solid play in pass coverage. He is able to cover tight ends and also shows a glimpse of having an ability to defend slot receivers. Jones totaled 88 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, two interceptions, and three pass deflections in 2015.
Weaknesses: No sugarcoating it, the size is a definite issue. Can he add the proper amount of weight and if he can, can he still maintain an athletic skill set with it? The above video shows that he has a tendency to lose awareness at times, with one play in particular where he overran the play which opened an easy running lane for TD. Jones must work on his instincts which definitely needs to be one of if not his best attribute due to size limitations. He also must work on filtering through trash and engage/disengage opposing blockers.
Bottom line: Just based on potential alone, Jones is without a doubt worth a day two (2nd or 3rd round) selection. Taking a look around the league, one of the consistent trends is teams looking for athletic, three-down linebackers. Jones fits that mold and will only get better. He is undersized currently and still fairly raw with only one year of starting experience. Even with that in place, Jones isn’t your typical “raw” prospect. Jones can give the Falcons defense something it has lacked in quite some time and that’s a linebacker with speed, fluidity, and aggressiveness. If the Falcons want to get fast and physical, Jones can definitely provide with his arsenal of skills.