The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't hidden the fact that they were happy that Georgia's Jarvis Jones ran slow at his pro day. That caused the outside linebacker, once projected as top-10 pick, to fall to the Steelers at No. 17 in last month's draft.
The feeling is apparently mutual.
"I’m glad I slipped," Jones said as the Steelers began their rookie minicamp Friday.
Some will be skeptical of Jones' statement. Dropping from the No. 5 overall pick to No. 17 cost him about $8 million.
But when you listen to Jones, he has quickly made himself at home in Pittsburgh. Jones said he gets the concepts of the defense after flipping through the playbook because he played the same 3-4 defense in college. He also talked about how he's already received calls from LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu.
Matt Bowen, a former NFL safety and ESPN contributor, believes Jones is one of the top five "impact fits" in the draft.
"I think this was the best choice of the whole draft, me being in Pittsburgh," Jones said. "This is what I was hoping for and wishing for. It happened and it’s just like a dream come true for me."
Jones led the nation last season in sacks (14.5), tackles for loss (24.5) and forced fumbles (seven) despite missing two games. But three teams -- the Miami Dolphins (No. 3), Detroit Lions (No. 5), Cleveland Browns (No. 6) -- chose other pass-rushers over Jones. Dion Jordan, Ezekiel Ansah and Barkevious Mingo were all taken ahead of him.
Asked if he has a chip on his shoulder, Jones said: "Not at all. At the end of the day, those guys are picking early for a reason."
According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jones is the first projected outside linebacker they have picked in the first round since Huey Richardson. That was 22 years ago.
But for now and many years to come, Jones is going to be linked to James Harrison, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year with Pittsburgh before the team cut him in March. Even though Jones is expected to take Harrison's spot, he isn't comfortable about being called the next James Harrison.
"I don’t compare myself in any way to James Harrison," Jones said. "He’s a great player and I respect him. I’ve 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."