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Versatility, Unselfishness Make Christian Jones a Fit for Any Scheme

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Versatility, Unselfishness Make Christian Jones a Fit for Any Scheme

All things being equal, Christian Jones would rather play outside linebacker in the NFL, but he's not fussy. It really, really doesn't matter to him where he plays.

Inside. Outside. Special teams. Whatever it takes.

“I consider myself to be a versatile guy," said Jones at the NFL Combine. "I’m not too sure where teams want me—inside or outside. A lot of teams have different schemes. Whoever takes me is getting somebody unselfish who will play whatever they need me to play to help out the team.”

With an attitude like that, it's no wonder Florida State was able to win college football's national championship this past season behind the strength of the No. 1 scoring defense in the nation, led in part by Jones.

Jones was a key part of a group of talented Seminole defensive players taking their skills to the NFL, including Timmy Jernigan, Lamarcus Joyner, Terrence Brooks and Telvin Smith.

In 2013, Jones lined up most frequently as an outside linebacker along the line of scrimmage, a quasi-defensive end, just as liable to line up in a three-point stance as a two-point stance.

The role seemed to fit Jones perfectly as he made 56 tackles, eight for a loss and two sacks. His individual statistics may not have been overwhelming, but at Florida State, it was a total team effort.

"As far as (Jones), stuck his hand in the dirt this year, I do believe it helped him," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock. "Today's NFL, anytime you can show some edge-rush ability, it's going to push you up a little higher in the draft. And I think his versatility will be a plus."

Jones could both rush the passer as well drop into coverage. As such, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the Seminoles also led the nation in pass defense, allowing an average of just 156.6 yards through the air per game.

In previous years, Jones played more frequently off the line of scrimmage.

"My junior year I played inside a little bit," said Jones. "I played some 'Will' and my senior year I played 'Mike' a little bit until they moved me outside. I played a lot of inside ‘backer at the high school level. It’s not like a new thing for me. I’ve seen it before, and I’m used to doing it. It won’t be an adjustment.”

Measuring in at 6' 3" and 240 lbs. at the NFL Combine, Jones has the size to hold up in the trenches but also possesses the read-and-react athleticism to get the job done at the second level if need be.

Jones speaks with what appears to be a perma-grin, seemingly happy just to converse about football—the type that lives, eats and breathes the sport. Even talk of playing special teams brings a smile to his face, and that is perhaps where Jones will have to earn his stripes early in his career seeing as he's projected as a mid-round draft choice by

But Jones' sheer athleticism give him the chance to succeed, even thrive in professional football.

“My length and size," said Jones about what will make him great pass rusher in the NFL. "I have a lot of athletic ability. I felt as the season went on, I was improving every week. I feel it’s something I can do for the team that takes me. I’ll be able to come off the edge or be the 'Sam' 'backer. I think that’s something I’m confident I can go out and do it.”

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

Photo: Florida State linebacker Christian Jones by Brian Carriveau.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (39) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

qotsa1's picture

If the Packers don't take Shazier or Mosley in the 1st round I would love them to take Jones in the 3rd if he is available.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Athlete...Athleticism...Athletic ability...I see it a lot while reading up on him (not just in this blog).

That's something the Pack damn sure needs.


DrealynWilliams's picture

Ok,y'all. I need some good footage of Shazier. I don't want highlights (if that makes sense). I want Shazier vs "team". I've seen Penn State and Clemson so far and the freak athlete isn't showing.

ben's picture

Not the 2013 Cal game. He has 1 or 2 nice plays but overall has a poor to very bad performance.

He had a number of nice plays last year against Michigan. Mainly flashes filling downhill in run-support. He also has a couple decent hits in coverage & gives a pass protector or 2 problems with pure quickness. But he still got pushed around at times.

I wish I could get a look at him @ safety. He definitely has the speed & as a LB had more pass-breakups than Dix or Pryor.

RCPackerFan's picture

I don't see him getting moved to safety, but he could play some safety type of roles. I think he will flourish in pass coverage on the next level.

DrealynWilliams's picture

We need a 3-down LB. Especially if taken in the 1st round. I'm starting to like Mosley more and more. If not Mosley in the 1st,then it must be a DB or D-Lineman. I wouldn't rule out WR in the 2nd.

ben's picture

"....then must be a D-Lineman"? (we need TE,ILB,C,S,CB,KR all more than a Dlineman. Maybe a NT, but there is no 1st round caliber NT)

I'll rule out a WR in the 2nd. Watkins, evans, cooks, & beckham will all be gone, and there isn't much separating the 2nd round WRs from the 3rd & 4th round WRs in this draft. Again TE, ILB, C, S, & CB are all of bigger need.

ben's picture

Moncrief has the measureables I like. But he's a little soft and lacked big production even at the college level. Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks, OdelBeckham, Martavis Bryant, Abbrederis, Marquise Lee, Paul Richardson, & Jordon Matthews will all be better pro-receivers.

It's not that I don't like Moncrief. But like I just said, with all the value in rounds 2-5 at the WR position, Moncrief is a reach in the 2nd.

"a STEAL! at 53"? come on now,

You'll see Stroh, I'll make sure you do.

ben's picture

Probably Cooks? wtf

Nelson? Jordy Nelson?

Soft, Suspect hands especially in traffic, drops A LOT of catchable balls, lacks PRO-duction. Looks the part though.

Odel Beckham? wtf again

Moncrief is a Richardson wantabe.

Sorry to break it to you,
#1Sammy Watkins, #2Mike Evans, #3Brandin Cooks, #4Odel Beckham, #5Paul Richardson, #6Martavis Bryant, #7Abbrederis, #8Jordon Matthews, #9Marquise Lee, #10Kelvin Benjamin

(next tier: Jeff Janis, Donte Moncrief, Devante Adams, Allan Robinson, Robert Herron, Cody Latimer)

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, I completely agree... I can see where they would maybe use him in a package where he lines up more like a safety. But no, he would be an ILB for the Packers.
When I think of him used in safety type of roles I think of him covering TE's vs the safety covering them. Maybe dropping back creating a 3 deep look in zone coverages where essentially he would be a 3rd safety. But to be physically moved to safety, no I don't see that.

ben's picture

because he got man-handled at the college level. and even with another 15lbs will get man-handled at the NFL level.

ben's picture

Versatile as in really doesn't excel at any 1 position. Unselfish as in his teammates are the ones making the plays. Athletic as in a 4.74 forty @ 240lbs with little strength or explosion.

I just watched 2 games of Christian Jones. (Miami & Clemson) I'm not going to bother watching any more. His underwhelming measurables match his underwhelming play. He has zero moves or strength as a pass-rusher, he doesn't get off blocks in run support, and he can't cover his own shadow.

For me he's undraftable. I would much rather take late round prospects Dezmen Southward, Zach Kerr, Carlos Fields Jr, Beau Allen, Blake Annen, Conner Shaw, or Marqueston Huff.

RCPackerFan's picture

I'm not a huge fan of Christian Jones either.

A couple of guys I would prefer in the middle rounds (3rd-4th round area) are Christian Kirksey and Jordan Zumwalt.

Both would be ideal fits in the Packers ILB positions. If you want a guy with more attitude, watch Zumwalt play. He brings some toughness and physical hitting.

JimTaylor31's picture

I agree about Zumwalt. The guy does play with a mean streak no doubt. I'm just not sure if he has the coverage skills to be much of an improvement over Hawk/Jones in the passing game. I wouldn't mind getting him in the 4th or later just for his physical play and attitude.

ben's picture

I've only watched the 1st 3 minutes so far, but HOLY SHIT

his 2 blocks on the 1st 2 kick returns make this worth watching (at worst he's a special teams demon)

much less him exploding into the backfield already a couple times and a monstrous hit in coverage just after the 3 minute mark

wow (just finished watching and it's some of the most impressive defensive game tape I've seen out of this draft class.) If he was a just a little bigger and a little faster he'd be a top 25 pick in my book. I'm a sucker for measurables, but Zumwalt seems to have the awareness, aggression, instant read and react skills to overcome any physical shortcomings. If he can play this well against a speedy spread option offense like Oregon, I'm led to believe he'll do just fine at the next level.

DrealynWilliams's picture

You sure did overhype this Jordan kid. Monstrous hit? That was an Oregon RB. Those guys are tiny.

No speed
Hard time getting off blocks
Takes bad angles on run plays when not shooting through gaps on blitz.
Even when he did shoot through gaps he didn't make plays.

He might be a nice special teams player.

Christian Jones offers more than Jordan Zumwalt.

ben's picture


DrealynWilliams's picture

I'm just not seeing great things from Shazier. Maybe I'm too hard to please. Maybe I'm just thinking too highly of him after his Pro Day #'s. I don't know.

It's crazy because he was 3rd in total tackles and 2nd in tackles for loss his last season.
Hell of an offense and above average defense,maybe???

If he didn't run in the 4.3s would he be ranked so high?

DrealynWilliams's picture

What do you think about his block shedding? I don't think it's good enough to be a 3-4 ILB. I could understand if the Pack had huge NT's and DE's,but they want to get smaller/quicker/more athletic up front. That leaves no one to really "hide" or take up that charging OL towards Shazier.

His speed and coverage ability does impress,but I just have a hard time seeing him as a 3-down LB within a 3-4.

DrealynWilliams's picture

We shall see.

Did Hawk flip roles last season? If so,I wonder if we draft Shazier and Hawk has to flip roles again would it limit both ILBs effectiveness.

We need nastiness in the middle.

If we still had the 2010 D. Bish I'd absolutely love drafting Shazier. I know D. Bish would be changing roles, but I think he was built for that.

DrealynWilliams's picture

"He and Shazier could be a terrific ILB tandem..."
Yea,especially in Nickel and Dime. I think we'd see more movement pre-snap like when we had Jenkins,Woodson and Collins.

The Draft
OTA's/Training Camp
Regular Season

They can't come fast enough. I'm anxious!

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Stroh, On most of these players, I can't argue with you, as you've studied them, & I haven't. When it comes to IL, as you know, I totally disagree with you. I've been telling you & any one who would listen that Hawk is weak, & basically No Good. A lot of people listen to what you have to say, & it's about time you said it. We've argued this, 1st Disrespectfully, & then Respectfully. We need to Fix the Defense. We need to find an impact IL, not to help Hawk, but to Replace him. I personally don't want GB to go Offense in the 1st 2 rounds at all. I'd rather not see Mathews or Peppers in the middle. They belong at DE. We need an Impact Safety.
I Respect yours, & everyone else's opinion on this upcoming draft. You've been talking a lot about TE's & WR's. That's great, but like it or not, we need to build up the Defense 1st. I personally hope GB takes the Best middle linebacker on the board at 21. I don't think Borland will be there, but if he is, I'd take him, & put Hawk on the sideline. Unless there is just No IL, Safety, or DE worth taking, I would not go Offensive in rounds 1 & 2. Again, we need to fix our IL situation 1st. I don't think we can draft an Impact Safety, so I'd be looking at another DE, if GB has intentions of using Mathews or Peppers in the middle. GB in my opinion, is 3 players away from being a Real SB contender, & they are all on Defense. To use their 1st pick, & probably their 2ond pick on offense, would be a mistake. JMO

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Stroh, Yeah, I agree. The Cap Hit is too much. I mentioned Borland, only because I don't know anyone else. We must be Tougher Up Front this year. I just don't see it coming from Hawk. In all honesty, we need IL & outside linebackers all the way across. Sounds like they want to use Peppers as a linebacker, both inside & out. If that's the case, shouldn't we be looking at DE's??? Just my opinion, but CM3 is Too Good at DE to be messing around with him. I just feel like we need some changes, & if Hawk doesn't play any better, then we need someone else there. Maybe I'm wrong, but I could swear, I saw Borland ranked as the #2 linebacker on NFL Network. If he's there in the 3rd, I would take him. I'd like someone bigger, but he's a Tough Tackler. Anyway, we need 2 more impact players somewhere around that line of scrimmage. I guess I can't forget Reggie & Sean. LVT

ben's picture

Dre, you know your right in questioning Shazier's ability to shed blocks at ILB in the 3-4. Both ILBs certainly do need to able to beat blocks and make plays. Shazier will struggle against the run and probably won't see the field much at LB in the base or running situations. If he does it will probably be at Okie Safety. & that's the only way he should be considered an every down player.

ben's picture

He's 240lbs. What linebacker position in the Packer's 3-4 do we not need a playmaker?

"You ask yourself what roles can he perform and can he perform them in the context of the Defensive scheme." - none, and no is the answer

No matter what round your "judging him like"

ben's picture

What linebacker position in the Packer's 3-4 do we not need a playmaker?

(YOU ask yourself) What roles can he perform and can he perform them in the context of the Defensive scheme?

jh9's picture

I think the ILB position in this year's draft is very thin. IMO if we can't draft either Mosley or Shazier, we won't get a ILB significantly better than what we have now. Mosley would make an immediate impact while I believe we'll see the best out of Shazier in a year or two. But both of those guys should be on the top of TT's shopping list for the 1st round. In the 2nd round we get the best available S - Ward, Bucannon, or Brooks.

HankScorpio's picture

" IMO if we can't draft either Mosley or Shazier, we won't get a ILB significantly better than what we have now."

They won't be drafting an average guy pushing 30 and they (hopefully) won't be drafting a china doll that misses time if the wind blows hard enough. So even if the talent is at the same pedestrian level as the current starters, it stands a fair chance of being an upgrade.

DrealynWilliams's picture

In other words -- it shouldn't be difficult finding 1 or 2 ILB's that can provide more impact play(s) and coverage ability than Hawk and B.Jones.

We can all agree that the talent from Mosley/Shazier to the rest of the ILB's drops a bit,but that doesn't mean there aren't talented LB's in rounds 2-7.

HankScorpio's picture

I don't think it would be hard to upgrade ILB, for sure.

Throwing out the caveat that I am a huge fan of Micah Hyde at Safety, I would call ILB the biggest need on the team. You can be average at LB in a 4-3. But you need playmakers at LB to make a 3-4 work.

Outside of Matthews, the Packers have no proven playmakers at LB. OLB at least has some potential for impact players in Perry & Peppers. ILB is just plain weak.

4thand1's picture

Funny Stroh. We seem to have the same fans. The same lame knuckleheads dislike every post we put up. Keep talkin football, maybe they'll learn a thing or two.

HankScorpio's picture

If Troy Polamalu (drafted 16th overall) couldn't start as a rookie, I doubt anyone the Packers could pick at 21 this year would. I hate that the Packers run a defense like that but it is what it is. Given that, I would be surprised if anyone but Hyde was starting this fall, even if the Packers draft a Safety @ 21.

DrealynWilliams's picture

That's unfair to compare past prospects/rookies to this year's prospects/rookies. Coaching/roster/health -- so many other factors come in to play on why some rookies start and some don't.

I wish people (not all) would stop acting like Pro Bowlers/All-Pro players come into the league already Pro Bowlers/All-Pro players. It takes experience. It takes coaching. It takes hard work.

Otto's picture

Whoever posted the link, thanks! Great resource. I just watched Zumwalt, Shazier, Borland and Mosley highlights on it.
First of all, Mosley is clearly the class of that group. Whatever the Packers need to do to draft him, do it. Speed, great tackling, good coverage, he's the total package.
Second, of that next tier of guys, Borland is the best LB. He diagnoses plays quickly. His tackling is text book. He's better at getting off blocks than Shazier or Zumwalt. He's genetically predisposed to be a LB. If only he were 4" taller and .3 seconds faster.
Shazier needs to be fast because he's always out of position. He gets tied up multiple times and pancaked in the Penn St. film. If I was TT, there is no way I'm spending a 1st round pick on him.
If you're drafting Zumwalt, you're drafting for special teams.

ben's picture

KYLE VANNOY! @ ILB! much better production, much much better tape(& the tape don't lie). 243lbs and very good against the run(doesn't just beat blocks, Kyle makes blockers look stupid then finishes). Best cover-LB in college football(great game-speed). VanNoy Attacks Quarterbacks.

LAST 3 YEARS: (pick 1)
a)232 Tkls, 21.5 Tkls4loss, 6 sacks, 9 passes defended, 3 INts
b)306 Tkls, 44.5 Tkls4loss, 14 sacks,15 passes defended, 1 INts
c)191 Tkls, 54.5 Tkls4loss, 24 sacks, 17 passes defended, 7 INts

2nd best ALLAROUND LB in the draft(2 Mack), and a perfect fit in GB in every way. 1st Round, Pick #21.

Watch this, then tell me I'm wrong.

Now do yourself a favor and watch'em again.

ben's picture

Another spectacular performance and a look at VanNoy doin some Spying at ILB.

how much pressure can 1 guy get?

ben's picture

OK. Now hows about you watch the game-tape.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Stroh, The only linebacker I know is Borland. I think he is probably too small, but he is a Hell of a Tough Guy in the middle. I don't think I'm wrong. I believe NFL Network has him ranked as the #2 linebacker??

ben's picture


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