In A Rush

They rush the pick up to the podium every year as if they're smarter than everyone else, as if they're laughing at the rest of the league.

But, really, the Pittsburgh Steelers' draft picks have fallen too flat of late to support that kind of arrogance. And in my opinion – the opinion of a mere sportswriter and not a football scout – I think they've come up flat again with Jarvis Jones.

Of course, you expected me to say that. It's what I had been saying before the draft. And even though I had learned a few days ago the Steelers liked him and desired him, I wasn't about to change my mind just to be in agreement.

It seems as if half of Steelers fans are with me when I ramble on that Jones isn't going to be the pass-rusher he was in college. The other half says "hogwash."

I'll be with that latter half soon enough, but first I have to give just one more lament – just to remain consistent – on this year's first-round pick by the Steelers:

* Jones is 245 pounds and will get blown up in the run game the way Lawrence Timmons – another alleged outside linebacker for whom the Steelers arrogantly rushed their card to the podium – was supposed to be in 2007. Timmons, though, turned out to be a pretty good inside linebacker, but when he moved back outside he couldn't hold the point at all.

* Jones will turn 24 years old in October. It makes me worry that the Steelers' vision – their structural blueprint plan under Kevin Colbert – has been skewed in a hurried attempt to win before the Ben Roethlisberger window closes. Thirty years ago, the Steelers passed on Dan Marino because they lacked the vision to see beyond Terry Bradshaw's final season. In my mind, they lack vision with this pick.

* Jones has spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal column – and it caused him to be rejected by the USC medical staff and forced him to transfer to Georgia, where he enjoyed two outstanding seasons. All's well now, as it was for a tackle by the name of Marcus McNeill, a 336-pounder who ran a 5.07 40 but wasn't drafted until the second round in 2006 because of the spinal condition. But McNeill played in the Pro Bowl – and then retired after only six seasons.

* Speaking of 5.07, that was just about Jones's 40 time. He ran a 4.92 40 and weighed about 100 pounds less than did McNeill. The Steelers say they were happy Jones ran such a poor time, because the rest of his workout suited them. But, you have to wonder how well he'll be able to cover because he didn't do much of it at Georgia.

OK. That's it. I'm done. You've read my rants prior to the draft about my feelings on drafting a small, slow, old and medically risky player who was already used as the centerpiece of his college offense and had his statistics blown up because of it.

The Steelers usually draft defensive ends in later rounds to make the transition to outside linebacker in their 3-4, but now they're trusting the position to someone who just might not be big enough to handle it.

I do like the way Jones uses his hands. And I agree that he's slithery in the same way Chad Brown was, and that's the comparison the Steelers used before the draft.

Jones is quick enough and closes with a burst once he gets a whiff of the quarterback. And I like him personally. I talked to him at the combine and he's got the same kind of cool that's made Larry Foote one of the more underrated leaders throughout this past run of Super Bowls in Pittsburgh.

Jarvis Jones is one cool cat with a great work ethic and a nose for the quarterback. But will it transfer to the next level? And if it does, how long will it last?

Questions, questions and more questions for probably half of the fans who have watched the tapes and agree with me that Jones is a risky proposition.

But for the other half, the half that's drooling over his production in the best college conference in the nation, Jarvis Jones is the answer.

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