Jeremiah: Jordan built for NFL
Dion Jordan is the best pass-rushing prospect in this draft. He has every tool you look for when projecting a successful NFL edge rusher: ideal height/length, an explosive first step and the ability to bend around the edge. Jordan also flashes the ability to turn speed into power, though that part of his game is still a work in progress as he continues to get stronger.
The only knock on Jordan is that he lacks "elite" sack production (posting just five in 2012). But Jordan was a hybrid defender in Oregon's scheme, forced to drop into coverage on a considerable number of plays. I researched all of the top pass rushers in the NFL, and it was interesting to check out each player's sack total from his final college season. Jordan stacks up favorably with several of them: Aldon Smith (5.5), Cameron Wake (1), Clay Matthews (4.5), Geno Atkins (3) and Chris Clemons (1). All of those players lacked top-shelf production but possessed pass-rushing traits that translated at the next level.
I like Jarvis Jones as a prospect, but his poor pro-day workout has NFL brass concerned. Those who defend Jones' lackluster showing point to his statistical success in the SEC, where he set the pace in sacks in each of the past two seasons. That motivated me to do some research and figure out how previous sack artists from this conference have fared in the NFL. Check out the SEC sack leaders before Jones, along with their highest single-season sack totals in the NFL (listed in parentheses):
2005: Willie Evans, Mississippi State (0).
2006: Jamaal Anderson, Arkansas (3), tied with Derrick Harvey, Florida (3.5).
2007: Marcus Howard, Georgia (1.5), tied with Greg Hardy, Mississippi (11) and Wallace Gilberry, Alabama (7).
2008: Carlos Dunlap, Florida (9.5), tied with Eric Norwood, South Carolina (1).
2009: Antonio Coleman, Auburn (0).
2010: Nick Fairley, Auburn (5.5).
It's pretty obvious that college sack production -- even in the nation's premier conference -- doesn't necessarily translate to NFL success.
Jordan's skill set makes him a much better fit for the NFL game.
Brooks: Jones dominated SEC
Jarvis Jones is the best pass rusher in the 2013 draft class. He totaled 28 sacks and 44 tackles for loss over the past two seasons in the SEC, which is considered the best college football conference by coaches and scouts around the NFL. Jones' dominance in this league is not only indicative of his remarkable skills as a pass rusher, but it also suggests that he will have a similar impact as a pro, due to the fact that he produced at an All-American level against top-notch competition. Back in my scouting days, I always looked at how elite prospects fared against the toughest competition they faced. Jones tallied 11 of his 14.5 sacks in 2012 against SEC competition: Missouri (2), Vanderbilt (1), South Carolina (1), Florida (3), Auburn (2) and Alabama (2). Additionally, he performed very well in the Bulldogs' biggest conference showdowns (against Alabama, Florida and South Carolina), which tells me he has the moxie to handle the pressure of playing on the big stage. Not to mention, two of his sacks came against Nebraska as part of a brilliant effort in the Capital One Bowl, his final college game.
From a talent perspective, Jones displays exceptional first-step quickness and snap-count anticipation. This allows him to routinely blow past blockers on the edge with dip-and-rip maneuvers. Furthermore, Jones plays with a relentlessness that allows him to pile up sacks through effort and hustle.
Now, I know Jones' underwhelming physical dimensions (6-foot-2, 245 pounds), speed (4.92 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and overall athleticism lead to questions about his potential impact at the next level. And despite a positive report earlier this month, there are still lingering concerns about his health, going back to a spinal stenosis diagnosis in his freshman season at USC. (Jones transferred to Georgia when USC doctors would not clear him to continue playing.) However, I place a greater emphasis on his performance and production over the past two seasons. Jones was clearly the best defensive player in college football's toughest conference in 2012, and I believe that experience will translate into outstanding production at the pro level.