Atlanta Falcons rookie linebacker Deion Jones is trying to show his critics they were wrong. Every scout that's said he's too small to play linebacker and every GM that questioned his lack of experience. If Jones has his way, they will all regret doubting him. But that process, however redeeming, will take time. Jones will need to establish himself as a leader in the Falcons' new and improved linebacker corps.
Monday night was special for Jones. As a New Orleans native displaced following Hurricane Katrina, he obviously wanted to play well. He'd never actually been in the Superdome, which is odd but true. In the stands were his friends and family. On his feet were a pair of special, commemorative cleats. It was a truly special moment when he grabbed Drew Brees' deflected pass out of the air and outran New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the opposite end zone. (Apparently someone clocked him at 21.72 MPH, the fastest speed for a scoring ball carrier this week.)
Jones is in many ways a known commodity right now. He's a speedster and he's athletic. That theoretically gives him the ability to excel in pursuit. He's still taking some questionable angles, limiting how much he can contribute in coverage, and for the foreseeable future, he's going to have a hard time shedding some blocks. None of this is unexpected.
Where does Jones stand in relation to the rest of the linebacker corps? Making that judgment call, only three games in, is tough. Personally I'd put him ahead of fellow rookie De'Vondre Campbell. Simply stated, Jones is arguably the biggest pure playmaker in that unit right now, ahead of seasoned veteran Sean Weatherspoon and infamous work house Paul Worrilow as well. All in all Jones just needs to keep his head down and give us more of the same. He's already a significant upgrade, now we just need to determine his full potential.