Player Profile #97 – ILB Greg Jones

It’s hard to find a more productive and honored defensive player in the college ranks than Michigan State middle linebacker Greg Jones.

Despite his All-America status and more than 450 career tackles with the Spartans there are questions about his productivity in the NFL. Jones stands less than 6-feet and his college career was marked by having trouble escaping from blockers. To do so, Jones frequently ran around blocks and got himself out of position.

A two-time team captain, the best chance of making a place for himself in the NFL is outside linebacker in the 4-3.

Here’s the story of one of the most prolific tacklers in Big 10 Conference history.

FAMILY BUSINESS

Greg Jones, Jr.

Born: October 5, 1988 in Cincinnati, OH.

Family: His parents are Greg and Beverly Jones.

BODY OF WORK

  • HEIGHT – 5-feet, 11¾ inches.
  • WEIGHT – 240 pounds.
  • ARMS – 32½ inches.
  • HAND – 10 inches.
  • Wingspan – 77 inches.
  • 40-yard dash – 4.75 seconds.
  • 20-yard dash – 2.69 seconds.
  • 10-yard dash – 1.68 seconds.
  • Bench press – 21 repetitions at 225 pounds.
  • Vertical jump – 31½ inches.
  • Broad jump – 9-feet, 9 inches.

HIGH SCHOOL

Jones attended Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, graduating with the Class of ’07. Moeller has an enrollment of just over 900 boys. The athletic programs are part of the Greater Catholic League in the Cincinnati area, annually considered one of the top high school football conference in the country. Former football coach Gerry Faust came right out of Moeller to become head coach at Notre Dame.

During his career with the Crusaders, Jones played both linebacker and defensive end and was rated among the nation’s top recruits at both positions by the time he was a senior. His coach was Bob Crable, a former All-America linebacker at Notre Dame, who played six seasons in the NFL with the Jets.

FOOTBALL

2006 – Finished the season as a first-team All-District and All-City. Lead the team with 71 total tackles, 23 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. He played DE as Crusaders went 5-5 on the season.

2005 – Over the season, Jones had 55 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. He played DE on a team that finished 6-5.

2004 – Lined up as a linebacker in part-time play with the varsity Crusaders who went 10-3.

2003 – Lined up as a linebacker with the freshman team.

RECRUITING

Jones was recruited heavily by two schools: Minnesota and Michigan State. He received interest from Air Force, Cincinnati, Marshall, Miami of Ohio and Western Michigan. Jones made his commitment to the Spartans on January 18, 2007.

COLLEGE

Jones was on pace to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in media arts this spring. Gaining that degree is one of the biggest reasons he returned to East Lansing for his senior season, rather than put his name in for the NFL Draft last year.

By staying for his last season, Jones because the first Michigan State player to enjoy back-to-back seasons where he was a consensus All-America since Bubba Smith and George Webster in the mid 1960s. He also became the fourth Michigan player to be named consensus All-America at least twice, joining Smith, Webster and Lorenzo White. He also was named first team All-Big 10 Conference three times. In the 2010 season, Jones was a semi-finalist for the Bednarik, Butkus and Lombardi Awards, all given to linebackers or defensive players.

2010 – (Captain) Named the team’s MVP while leading the club with 106 total tackles.

2009 – (Captain) Big 10 defensive player of the year; 3rd in tackling among FCS defenders.

2008 – Started eight games at SAM and then five at MLB. Had 127 total tackles.

2007 – Named to the freshman All-America first team and led team in tackles, the first true freshman to do so in 30 years. He opened seven games at SAM linebacker.

 Year

 

G

 

S

Total

Tackles

Tackles

For Loss

 

Sacks

 

FF

 

FR

 

INT

 

PBU

2010

13

13

106

10

1

3

0

2

5

2009

13

13

154

14

9

1

1

0

1

2008

13

13

127

14

2

0

0

0

1

2007

13

7

78

8.5

4.5

1

0

0

1

Total

52

46

465

46.5

16.5

5

1

2

9

31 starts at MLB; 15 starts at SAM.

EVALUATION FOR PRO FOOTBALL


Strengths – Jones is an instinctive player who has shown he can diagnosis what the offense is trying to do and he does it very quickly. Does a good job of seeing the entire field and reacts without wasted motion. He plays hard and fast at all times, and seems comfortable in traffic or out in space. Jones is always around the ball and it seems like he always finds way to make the tackle. Does a good job rushing the passer and has shown more than one pass rush move, and more than one counter-move. He’s good in coverage on short routes, reacting quickly to anything in front of him.

Weaknesses – A lack of size and bulk makes it tough for him to shed blockers when they get on him. He doesn’t really explode into the ball carrier and over his career he forced only five fumbles in 465 total tackles. He must improve on getting off blocks, as he’s sometimes engulfed by bigger opponents and that negates whatever he brings in the way of desire. Because of what he gives up in size and power, he sometimes takes bad angles to the ball and gets himself out of position. Only so-so when it comes to turning and running in coverage and can get lost in the dust. Because of his size he’ll likely be limited to playing the weak side as an outside linebacker.

Analysis – One of the reasons he stayed in school for his senior year was a third-round grade given him by the NFL Advisory Committee. A year later, he’s still considered a third round talent, due in large part of a mediocre senior season that saw little personal improvement, although his team was much better. Jones should be a real contributor immediately on special teams, but in the base defense he’ll be limited on the pro level.

WHAT THE SCOUTS SAY

From an AFC scout – “He’s really tough guy to judge because his size limits what he can do, but he achieved more on the college level than his size should have allowed. I can’t see him as a major player in the NFL, but given the right situation with the right coaching staff, he could make an impact.”

From an NFC Scout – “There’s no way for him to make up what he doesn’t have physically. He can lift all he wants, but that’s not going to make him bigger and with more power. He struggles when blocked and that was on the college level. He’s not an elite pro prospect.”

WHAT HE HAS TO SAY

On being a middle linebacker and team captain – ” The first thing about being a mike is being a leader — just coming in with the guys, taking a lot of film and stuff like that. It’s hard to be a real leader if no one follows you. When I was named captain, the first thing I wanted to do was earn the respect. I wanted to be a guy to make plays when it mattered and have people follow me.”

Here’s part of his meeting with the press at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis:

 Greg Jones

WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY

Michigan State LB coach ST LBs coach Mike Tressel – ‘Greg Jones is passionate about the game, and when he’s on the field nothing is going to stop him from getting to the football.”

Former Michigan coach Rich Rodriquez – “He’s a real explosive player, first and foremost. I mean, he’s always around the ball. You can tell he’s a great conditioned athlete and he tackles. When he hits you, you get on the ground.”

Penn State running back Evan Royster – “He’s an unbelievable athlete. I remember watching some of the game tape from him last year and the year before. He makes plays. He’s all over the field. He’s one of the quickest outside guys I’ve seen.”

Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi: “It’s his instincts that make him great. He’s got a great nose for the ball. He doesn’t miss many tackles.”

DOES HE FIT WITH THE CHIEFS

On paper, he hits all the high marks the Chiefs are looking for in a player – dedicated, durable, student of the game, leader (twice team captain), productive. But there’s no getting around the fact that Jones does not have the prototypical NFL linebacker’s body. His best position in the NFL likely would be on the outside, but it’s hard to see him coming in and taking the place of a bigger, stronger and faster outside linebacker in the 3-4. What you have here is a round peg trying to fit into a square hole if the team is the Chiefs and the player is Greg Jones.

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