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Making the Leap, No. 30: Packers LB Brad Jones

Around The League will profile the top 40 players we see Making the Leap in 2013. No. 30 on the list: Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Brad Jones.

Why Jones is on the list

Brad Jones might not be a household name, but the Packers inside linebacker became one of coach Mike McCarthy's favorite players last season. His game tape revealed why.

In Green Bay's 3-4 scheme, Jones played as a weakside gap plugger tasked with winning one-on-one matchups on his side of the field. In his better performances, Jones emerged as an instinctive defender able to shake off blockers and get to the ball carrier. He displayed those qualities in Green Bay's 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 15.

Below, watch as Jones (No. 59) bursts toward the line, sheds right guard Chris Spencer without losing momentum and makes the tackle on Bears running back Matt Forte.

Jones again showed that ability to recover from initial contact in the play captured on video below. Former Bears fullback Evan Rodriguez clogged the path to Forte and knocked Jones back a step, but the Packer bounced back to assist A.J. Hawk on the stop.

Jones' 687 snaps last season earned him a ranking as the NFL's 10th best inside linebacker, per ProFootballFocus. His strong work against the ground game ranked just below Sean Lee of the Dallas Cowboys. That feels about right.


Jones, a converted outside linebacker, netted just two sacks last season.

He won't be confused with the Arizona Cardinals' Daryl Washington as an inside pass rusher, but another season in the trenches should help. This hammering of Jake Locker in a Week 16 trouncing of the Tennessee Titans is something we should see more of in 2013.

Frankly, the biggest obstacle for Jones had been the lingering presence of inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, but Bishop was cut last month before joining the Minnesota Vikings. After signing a three-year, $11.75 million contract in the offseason, Jones is part of the plan in Green Bay.

2013 expectations

Filling in for the injured D.J. Smith last season, Jones notched 88 tackles over the final 11 games and won over McCarthy in the process. He's penciled in to start come September.

Jones isn't a guy you have to pull off the field. He served as an every-down player who performed well enough in coverage to play in 137 out of a possible 137 snaps over the final two weeks of the season.

This year's challenge? Staying fresh down the stretch if he starts from wire to wire. Based on his tape from last season, Jones has the tools to pull it off, meaning the Packers have found someone to keep.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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