By the time the 2013 NFL Draft rolls around, Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones could find himself as a top five pick. It isn’t an uncommon place for him in recent mock drafts, but one of the questions Jones is facing has nothing to do with his production on the field or his transition to the NFL game. It’s his health.
Jones started his career at USC but transferred to Georgia after USC team doctors would not clear him to play as a result of spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column. He finished his collegiate career without incident but that is a lot different than asking an NFL team to make a heavy financial investment.
Each combine participant goes through a set of medical evaluations and so far the news sounds good:
LB Jarvis Jones said most of doctors he met w today re: spinal stenosis were not concerned about the injury.
— Kevin Seifert (@espn_nfcnblog) February 23, 2013
If you’re like me you are drawn to the part that says “most” doctors. That suggests the opinion is not unanimous and while it may not rule him out as a top draft pick, it also may not eliminate his status as a potentially risky pick.
Since Jones has been mentioned as a potential Lions pick, this is largely good news for fans of the Honolulu blue and silver. However, I still find an issue with the fit on the field. Jones is widely seen as a 4-3 outside linebacker rather than a rush end and while that might sound like a fit, the Lions haven’t shown a desire to use their outside linebackers to rush the passer, the area where Jones excels.
It is possible the Lions would adapt their defensive philosophy if they were to add Jones but the way the coaching staff handled Julian Peterson suggests they have no interest in doing that and therefore might view Jones as a nice prospect, but a better fit for someone else.