Steelers ink top two draft picks to rookie contracts
University of Georgia product, Jarvis Jones was taken with the 17th overall pick by the Steelers in the first round of the 2013 draft. While the Steelers selected Le’Veon Bell with the 48th overall pick out of Michigan State in the second round of April’s draft.
“I think it’s a blessing. I wanted to get it out of the way so I can continue to focus on my career," Jones said of signing with the Steelers before the next stage of their offseason workout program kicks off this month. "The organization and my agent did a great job of getting it out of the way so it won’t be a distraction going into training camp.”
“I’m going to be fully focused and ready to go out there and give everything I’ve got to help my teammates.”
As a senior, Jones was a finalist for every major national defensive award, including the Rotary Lombardi Award, Butkus Award, Bednarik Trophy, Nagurski Award and the LOTT Impact Trophy. Jones was also named to numerous All-American first-teams following the 2012 season.
Jones spent the past three years at University of Georgia, after transferring from the University of Southern California. Jarvis Jones appeared in 34 career games at the college level, including starting all 26 he played for the Bulldogs. The 23-year-old Jones led the FBS ranks with 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for a loss and seven forced fumbles, while also registering 85 overall stops and one interception to help the Georgia post finish on a 12-2 record this past season and make an appearance in the SEC Championship game. As the Bulldogs’ captain, Jarvis Jones was named one of team’s Most Valuable Defensive Players and set the Georgia single-season record for sacks in the Bulldogs' 45-31 victory over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.
Meanwhile, Le’Veon Bell spent the past three seasons at Michigan State, where he rushed for 3,346 yards and 33 touchdowns for his collegiate career. Bell won the Big Ten rushing title with 1,743 yards this past season and was an All-Big Ten Conference Selection.
Both rookies are projected to start this season. The Pittsburgh Steelers have no clear starter opposite Lamar Woodley at linebacker, which could lead to an intriguing battle at the spot this summer. Jones will compete with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ former second-round pick Jason Worilds for the right outside linebacker spot. He was previously limited during the team’s OTAS sessions with a hamstring injury.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ also underachieved on the ground last season, finishing among the bottom half in the league (26th) in terms of rushing yardage. With veteran Rashard Mendenhall leaving the team during free agency, Le’Veon Bell could claim a role in the Pittsburgh Steeler’s offense if he impresses the coaches this offseason. Le’Veon Bell’s main competition in camp will come from veterans Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, for the starting running back job this season.