When it comes to the NFL Draft, the top-rated player in the nation isn't always the first pick. Often times, the team with the No. 1 overall pick has such a glaring need that they have to reach for someone who might not be considered "the" player to draft. This is usually the case for the quarterback.
Given that the Kansas City Chiefs hold the top pick, some of the prominent defensive players of this draft - a very defense-heavy draft - are likely to get passed over for the chance to be a top pick.
That doesn't stop the pre-draft rankings from putting them where they belong, though. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN released his latest Top 25 Big Board, and he's got a defensive player holding the top spot: outside linebacker Jarvis Jones from Georgia.
I don't know if he'll hold this position through the draft process, but his performance and positional value to this point have gotten him here. Explosive, disciplined, relentless edge rusher who profiles as a 3-4 OLB and doesn't need to come off the field. A quick first step, violent hands, tackles well and closes fast. Solid against the run and can really cover.
Jones is the consensus top outside linebacker among the top experts, and given the reasons listed by Kiper, it's no surprise. He was a First Team All-SEC player this past season and broke Georgia's sack record, with 14.5. On top of that, he added 24.5 tackls for loss, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 85 tackles.
He even had an interception. You know, for fun.
He's been projected all over the top half of the first round and it's unlikely he falls out of there. It's likely he'll go to a team that employs a 3-4 defense, but he'd certainly be useful for a 4-3 team as well.
Jones is at his best when he can stand a rush the passer, but his one interception wont quell the concern about his ability to move around the field and cover. However, that's a problem given to almost all 3-4 outside linebackers as they head into the draft.
He's also got a medical condition - spinal stenosis, which could affect him later on in his career. He may fall down draft boards because of it if teams are worried about it, but his big-play explosiveness in the here and now makes him a safe bet for being a first round pick.