Hand: 9 5/8″
Arms: 32 7/8″
Projected Draft Position: 3rd – 4th
Christian Jones arrived at Florida State as one of the highest-regarded athletes in the nation, and the No. 2-ranked outside linebacker according to Rivals. As a true freshman in 2010, Jones saw action in all 14 games and didn’t miss a contest his entire four-year stay with the Seminoles. In his first season as a full-time starter in 2011, Jones finished second on the team in tackles. The next season, Jones was the team’s leading tackler before posting a career-best 8.0 tackles for loss as a senior last year.
+ Versatile, natural athlete
+ Incredible coordination
+ Great length – tall with long arms
+ Good speed
+ Good explosiveness throughout his game
+ Fluid hips, good bend
+ Plays physical – has some nasty to his game
+ Good lateral movement, with speed to get sideline to sideline
+ Good body control and agility – improvised moves
- Lean muscle, lacks bulk
Against the Run
+ Instinctive – sniffs out RB’s direction and gets his helmet there
+ Solid tackler, takes good angles and pulls down ball carrier
+ Keeps his feet and stays square to LOS
+ Effective at funneling the rush
+ Can makeup ground with his speed
+ Good awareness
+/- Better when starting with space in front of him
- Inconsistent shedding blocks
- Can struggle against physical blockers
+ Very effective coming off the edge
+ Uses speed and agility to penetrate the line
+ Disciplined in pursuit of the quarterback
+ Very difficult to contain him on a speed rush
+ Has superb athleticism to create on the fly – spin, inside move, etc.
+ Effective using his long arms to disrupt QB
+ Versatile to rush with hand in the dirt, or from the middle
+ Relentless when it comes to getting after the QB
+ Good explosiveness off the LOS
+ Good acceleration (more noticeable straight-line)
- Needs to develop a reliable set of pass rush moves
- Can struggle against physical blockers (noticed in game v. Miami)
+ Possesses the speed to cover anywhere from slot inward
+ Good awareness – understands role when covering RB, TE
+ Easily sticks with guys out of the backfield
+ Can drop into coverage and quickly shoot downhill to scrambling QB
+ Has the athleticism to make a play with the ball in the air
+ Great feet, attached to hips – can flip, move and drive
+ Natural football instincts show up in pass coverage
+ Has speed to recover and/or close
- Doesn’t possess great ball skills – room for improvement
+ Football bloodlines – both his father and brother played at FSU
+ Extremely versatile – played in middle in ’12, more edge-rusher in ’13
+ Durable – hasn’t missed a game in four seasons
+ Can’t say enough about his athleticism
- Could afford to add strength and bulk
Christian Jones’ combination of athleticism, length and natural football instinct make him a very intriguing draft prospect. While we saw him used as an inside backer in 2012, Jones played a larger role as an edge-rusher as a senior last season. His versatility and demonstrated linebacker duties from a number of different spots will be attractive for prospective coaches.
That said, I like Jones in space. Although he was fun to watch coming off the edge with his hand in the dirt, I think you get the best value with him in the middle — covering TEs and RBs and stopping the run, yet still threatening as a blitzer from anywhere near the LOS.
Here we take a look at a play in Jones’ junior season in 2012 — while a more traditional weakside — against Mike Glennon and North Carolina State. The Wolfpack trail by six and they’re driving — lined up for a critical 3rd-and-long.
Jones is highlighted in red and he’ll be sticking with the inline tight end (highlighted in green) on a shallow dig route on a near-obvious passing situation.
All of those same skills — in addition to superb athleticism — come into play here where Jones is able to read the quarterback and use his long arms to get a hand on the ball and breakup what could have been a first down following the catch.
While Jones may not be a finished product, he has all the natural tools to create a solid foundation for coaching and technique at the next level. He has the potential to be a very good and versatile football player.