Deion Jones, OLB, LSU: 2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Deion Jones, a 2012 three-star recruit, started 12 of 51 career games for LSU. Was stuck behind Kwon Alexander on the depth chart for three seasons before finally getting his chance to start in 2015. Starting at weakside linebacker, he led the Tigers with 100 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss as a senior while also adding five sacks and two interceptions. Participated in 2015 Senior Bowl. Adequate height/weight with a lean frame and very good athletic ability.

Measureables

Height: 6’0” 7/8

Weight: 222 lbs.

Arm Length: 32-3/8 inches

Hand Size: 9-1/4 inches

Combine Results

40-Yard Dash: 4.59 seconds

10-Yard Split: 1.60 seconds

Bench Press: N/A

Vertical Jump: 33”

Broad Jump: 10’0”

Three Cone: N/A

Short Shuttle: N/A

Games Watched

2015: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Ole Miss, Texas Tech

Strengths

Against the run, displays good athletic ability by accelerating towards the line of scrimmage and quickly filling gaps. Possesses solid play speed to chase the ball carrier down the line of scrimmage due to elite lateral agility. Impressive competitive toughness for a linebacker with a lean frame, rarely coming off the field.

Explodes out of his stance when rushing the passer as a result of very good short-area quickness. When dropping into coverage, which was his main responsibility at LSU, he displays very good awareness from zone. Understands route concepts and will make receivers think twice before going over the middle. Good angular body position throughout his backpedal creates an explosive plant and drive towards the receiver when the ball is thrown in front of him.

Man coverage is where he really excels. Whether covering a slot receiver, tight end or running back, Jones is able to matchup. At the snap, utilizes solid football intelligence to diagnose the play and react accordingly. Mirrors the receiver, forcing the QB to throw into tight windows. Possesses quick and flexible hips which he is able to either open and sprint downfield or change directions laterally.

The latter is what we see in the play below. Jones lines up at ROLB and is responsible for covering Florida WR Antonio Callaway, a Freshman All-American in the slot. Callaway starts upfield, but breaks back towards the middle of the field on a dig route. As soon as Jones sees the change of direction, he plants his foot in the ground, flips his hips and sprints after the WR. He shows very good awareness to turn his head quickly and locate the football. He isn’t able to intercept the pass, but his positioning allows him to break it up.

 

Weaknesses

Poor flexibility when rushing off the edge, does not possess the bend needed to get to the QB quickly. Marginal awareness in the run game, tries to guess where the play is headed and often shoots the wrong gap. Lacks the play strength and technique to shed blocks as a result of adequate hand usage and functional strength. Takes poor angles to the football as he is overly aggressive which results in him overrunning and taking himself out of the play.

 

Despite leading LSU in tackles in 2015, he struggles to finish plays. When in open space, he goes for the big hit rather than wrapping up to secure the tackle. The most famous play on which this occurred was in the Alabama game. In the play, which can be seen below, Crimson Tide QB Jake Coker is forced to take off and run. Jones has a clear shot at him, but goes for the knockout blow with his shoulder instead of wrapping up and taking the QB to the ground. Coker bounces off and keeps the play alive.

Overall

Overall, Deion Jones is a starting OLB in a 4-3 defense who wins with his athletic ability and coverage skills. Is not someone who should be asked to consistently rush off the edge. With the recent success of lighter linebackers, size isn’t a huge concern with Jones. Despite starting just one season at LSU, he’s proven that he can be a three-down LB.

With the pass-happy NFL now spreading the field and looking to create mismatches, having a player like Jones in the slot is a huge asset for a defense. In the draft, I project Jones to come off the board in the third round, but wouldn’t be surprised if he’s selected a round earlier.