When the Steelers drafted Jarvis Jones with the 17th overall pick in the draft, Jason Worilds became all kinds of irrelevant. At least where the media was concerned. Jones was locked in to fill the vacated spot at ROLB as the heir apparent to James Harrison, who the Steelers had just released.
Now that the draft is over and people are starting to come back down to earth, so are the expectations thrust upon the early round picks. The first-rounders in particular.
What better example of this than the fact that people are just starting to realize Jones has to beat out Worilds before he can take over at starting OLB. Funniest part about it is the fact that this will be one of the more interesting and competitive of all the training camp battles. And that’s saying something considering that whole Jets QB battle.
Now for a look at the two combatants in this one.
The pseudo-incumbent, Jason Worilds, will have the edge in experience in a Dick Lebeau defense and also has the edge in, well, experience in general. Having been drafted in the second-round of the 2010 draft, Worilds will be going into his fourth season with the Steelers. Over the course of his NFL career Worilds has played in 42 games, mostly backing up Pro-Bowler in Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison - injuries to these two also had him start ten games.
Worilds has struggled mightily to make any impact in the pass-rush and as a result only has 10 sacks to his credit; if you're keeping track that’s one for each start. It’s worth taking into account that his last season, which was also his best, he had five sacks while only playing in little over 50% of the teams snaps. While I don’t expect him to be on the field for anywhere near the 100% mark in snaps, it is worth taking into account that a double-digit sack season isn’t out of the realm of possibility with this train of thought. Then again, he did grade out negatively in rushing the passer on ProFootballFocus.
The new kid on the block, Jarvis Jones, brings a much different skill set to the table than Worilds. For starters, he has a much more slender and lengthy build and has a lot more speed to his game. While Jones lacks any experience in a Dick Lebeau defense, he played in a scheme that was very similar during his time in Georgia - where he was ridiculously productive.
In his final two seasons with Georgia Jones played in 26 games and registered 28 sacks. That’s more than one a game, all while playing in the ultra-competitive SEC. His speed and relentless approach to the game make him a valuable asset in the pass rush, but he often looks lost in coverage; that’s actually one area where Worilds grades positively on ProFootballFocus.
No matter who is the winner of this training camp battle, they have my sympathies. Filling in for James Harrison is no small task and they will draw unfair comparisons to him all season, be it for the right reasons or wrong ones. Their pressure, our pleasure. Should be fun to watch.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV