It’s easy to make the comparison.
The Pittsburgh Steelers released James Harrison in March and drafted what is likely his heir apparent in Jarvis Jones just one month later.
Both are pass rushing and playmaking linebackers and while Harrison has made a career of getting to the quarterback, the Steelers hope they get similar production out of Jones, who led the NCAA in sacks in 2012.
But if you ask Jones, he doesn’t want to hear any comparisons to the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.
“I don’t compare myself in no way to James Harrison,” Jones said at the Steelers’ rookie minicamp today, via the Associated Press. “He’s a great player. Respect him. Never met him. But I love his game. I wouldn’t mind being an impact player like James Harrison, but I’m just continuing to do what my coaches ask me to do and continuing to better myself as a player.”
Personally, I don’t like the Harrison label on Jones and it’s not always a good thing to compare rookies to proven veterans. Plus Jones can’t be too much like Harrison as he doesn’t make enough to afford all of the fines.
But on a serious note, the comparison between the two is a legitimate one.
At his best, Harrison played hard-nosed defense like few other linebackers in the NFL. He made plays on a frequent basis and was one of the most-feared defenders in the league. Opposing teams had to gameplan against him and that made him very dangerous. The Steelers would love to see Jones emulate that and he has the raw talent to do so.
Jones led the nation last season in sacks (14.5), tackles for loss (24.5) and forced fumbles (seven) despite missing two games and while it’s not real fair to a young kid to ask him to come in and replace a guy like Harrison, if the Georgia product can put up numbers even half as good as he did in college, the Steelers may have found their next Harrison- at least in terms of impact.