We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.
We’ll get things started with the projected starters. The third group I’ll be examining is LB, where the Falcons lost starter De’Vondre Campbell to free agency and drafted Mykal Walker in the fourth round. Just how good can the LB corps be without Campbell in 2020?
Today we’ll shift our focus to one of the young stars on Atlanta’s defense: fifth-year veteran Deion Jones.
LB Deion Jones
Age: 25 (26 during the 2020 season)
Contract: $10.32M cap hit in 2020, under contract through 2023 ($11.69M APY)
Career Production: 53 games played, 51 games started | 409 total tackles, 23.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 4 INT, 32 PD, 2 FF
2019 Production: 16 games played, 16 games started | 110 total tackles, 10.6% missed tackle rate, 8.0 TFL, 5 PD, 1 INT, 5 total pressures, 58.5% completion percentage allowed, 92.3 passer rating allowed
Previous Teams: Drafted 2nd round (#52 overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2016-present)
One of the finest draft picks of the Quinn-TD era and one of the best players on the defense throughout his tenure in Atlanta, Deion Jones entered the NFL with a bang and never looked back. In his rookie season in 2016, Jones found his way into the starting lineup almost immediately and began posting excellent production. He had 108 total tackles, 4.0 TFL, 11 (!) PD, 3 INT, and 2 defensive TDs in that magical season for the Falcons.
In 2017, Jones turned in an even better overall showing. In 16 starts, he improved his tackle numbers (138 total tackles, 10.0 TFL), coverage numbers, and once again posted 3 INT. Expectations were high for Jones and the team in 2018, but Jones unfortunately succumbed to the rash of injuries on the defense. He missed the majority of the season, playing in just 6 games—although his production in those games was still quite good despite recovering from injury.
Jones returned to full health in 2019 and was rewarded with a lucrative extension. He once again started all 16 games and played at a very high level on a struggling Falcons defense. Jones is now under contract until 2023 and figures to be a long-term fixture as the leader in the middle of the defense. As an elite athlete at the LB position with impressive physicality for his size, Jones is an incredibly versatile and skilled defender. His ability in coverage is perhaps his most valuable trait, but his sideline-to-sideline range and burst are key in the Falcons’ Cover 3-heavy scheme.
Projection: Another Pro Bowl-caliber year could be in the cards, as Jones is fully healthy and should be on an improved overall defense with Raheem Morris at the helm. Expect team-leading tackle numbers and impressive coverage stats—particularly for a LB—as Jones continues to cement himself as one of the best 4-3 LBs in the NFL.