With apologies to reigning MVP Matt Ryan, the dynamic running back duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, the great Julio Jones, and phenomenal young defenders like Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett, and Keanu Neal, there’s no player we’re more excited about here than Deion Jones. With every team site across SB Nation choosing one player to trumpet this morning, Jones was our choice.
Why? I grappled with Debo versus Neal in particular, given that Neal looks faster and already looked like one of the league’s best safeties in his rookie season. What settled things for me is that I genuinely love quality linebacker play, and Jones is such a great one already that I really can’t wait to see what he’ll do. This is, after all, a 22-year-old player who just led the team in combined tackles (108) and interceptions (3) while embodying the #fast and #physical nature of Dan Quinn’s defense just about as well as anybody. With a healthy, potent defensive line in front of him that just added Dontari Poe to the mix, Jones should eat.
The truth is that there are so many great players on this team worthy of being excited about, to say nothing of breakout candidates like Austin Hooper and De’Vondre Campbell, that it’s almost unfair to single one out. Jones could rank as one of the league’s best linebacker as soon as this year and figures to be one of the defense’s most critical pieces, though, so I’m happy with my choice.
Who would you choose?