Every NFL team drafts its share of highly-touted college players that turn out to be underwhelming, and some inevitably go bust. With that in mind, Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently released its selections for the single-worst draft pick made by each NFL team since 2006.
Turning to the Pittsburgh Steelers, PFF chose former Georgia Bulldogs edge rusher Jarvis Jones, who the black & gold selected No. 17 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.
“Jones had notoriously bad testing numbers coming out of Georgia, but the Steelers still nabbed the SEC Defensive Player of the Year . After 28 sacks [during] his final two seasons with the Bulldogs, he managed six in four seasons before exiting the NFL,” relates Michael Renner.
Indeed Jones ran a 4.92 40-yard dash at his Pro Day and his bench press numbers would have left him ranked 16th among players at his position, had he worked out at the NFL Combine.
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Jones tried to dismiss the significance of his test results.
“I’m a football player,” Jones told the media after his Pro Day. “It’s about football, right? I’m a football player. That’s what I do. At the end of the day, you get those drills—I’m not saying they ain’t worth nothing—but you get those drills, running the 40 and all that stuff. You could get someone off the street who can run a 4.3, but they can’t play football. That’s easy.”
As it turns out, Jones couldn’t replicate the pass rushing success he experienced at Georgia when going against NFL-caliber pass blockers. But it’s probably a stretch to describe him as the worst Steelers draft pick of the past 15 years, as he did play in 50 games (including 35 starts) over the course of four seasons. During that time, he recorded 130 total tackles (84 solo), with 11 tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hits, plus the aforementioned six sacks. He also forced four fumbles and recovered three others.
Naturally, the Steelers declined to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Jones went on to sign a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals in March 2017 but never appeared in a regular-season game for the Cards.
Earlier this year, Jones earned a degree in Human Development and Family Science from Georgia. While he was completing his degree he also served as a student assistant coach for the football team.
What About CB Senquez Golson?
If you’re talking about draft status vs. actual NFL production there seems little doubt that Mississippi cornerback Senquez Golson (5-foot-9, 176 pounds) was the worst Steelers draft pick of the last decade-and-a-half.
The Steelers took him with the 23rd selection of the second round in 2015 and he never appeared in a game for the Steelers, not even in the preseason.
He missed his entire rookie year with a shoulder injury. Then he suffered a Lisfranc (foot) injury during the first training camp practice in 2016. In 2017 he had to be carted off the field on the first day of training camp. Again. The Steelers decided to cut him prior to the start of the 2017 season. He went on to spend a week on Tampa Bay’s practice squad before he signed with the Oakland Raiders in the spring of 2018. He lasted just a few weeks before the Raiders released him in May of that year.
Honorable Mention: WR Limas Sweed
As for the next-most disappointing Steelers draft pick of the PFF era, that might be former Texas wide receiver Limas Sweed, who was taken No. 53 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. Sweed never started a game for the Steelers but he did appear in 20 regular season contests over two years and caught seven passes (on 15 targets) for a total of 69 yards.
Most famously, he dropped a long pass at the end of the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 AFC Championship game, one that would have given the Steelers a commanding 20-7 lead.
Sweed did, however, deliver a block in that contest that made Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward proud:
Paxton Lynch and Dwayne Haskins
Notably, Jarvis Jones isn’t the only player on PFF’s list with whom the Steelers have had first-hand experience. Former Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch (selected No. 26 overall in 2016) was named the worst Denver Broncos draft pick of the past 15 years. Lynch spent time with the Steelers in 2019 and 2020. Earlier this week he signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.
Meanwhile, the Steelers are currently auditioning Washington’s worst draft pick, quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who went No. 15 overall in 2019. Pittsburgh signed Haskins to a one-year Reserve/Future deal in January. In the time since, he has attracted positive notice from his new teammates, with Ben Roethlisberger marveling at his throwing ability.
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