Atlanta Falcons: 3 Players With Rising Stock At Year’s End

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 06: Defensive end Takkarist McKinley
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 06: Defensive end Takkarist McKinley /
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Dan Quinn has emphasized speed on defense since his arrival in 2015, and middle linebacker Deion Jones brings exactly that to this defense.

Selected in the second round in the 2016 draft, Jones has quickly made himself the cornerstone of the defense.

His speed paired with his nose for the football (6 interceptions in 2 years) make Jones Atlanta’s best middle linebacker since Keith Brooking, a position that has desperately needed upgraded since Brooking’s departure.

This year, Jones took a step forward from his rookie season.

Jones recorded the fourth-most tackles in the league (138), three picks, and ten passes defended. He earned a spot in the Pro Bowl, being selected after Luke Kuechly announced he wouldn’t be participating due to an injury.

Although Jones is somewhat small for a linebacker (6’1”, 222 pounds), his speed on defense is unlike most linebackers.

He keeps defenses from getting the edge on run plays, while he has the speed to cover running backs in the passing game. His play produced a PFF grade of 89.6, which ranked sixth amongst all linebackers.

Jones’ PFF coverage grade of 93.5 reflects his coverage ability. He allowed just one reception every 10.6 coverage snaps, which also attests to this.

For example, Deion’s interception to seal a victory over the Saints beautifully displays his athletic ability and coverage skills.

Next: Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan extension priority No. 1

Jones appears well on his way to become one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL.

Him, along with Falcons safety Keanu Neal , Takk, and others have Atlanta in good hands for the foreseeable future.