Pro Football Focus names Falcons' Deion Jones among the players on the cusp of elite status 


The Falcons' defense has made great strides over the past two seasons, and the man in the middle of the unit has earned recognition as one of the top young players in the NFL.


Part of a new breed of middle linebackers, Deion Jones has become a true playmaker for the Falcons. Pro Football Focus named Jones as a player who appears to be on the verge of cementing their status as an elite player in the league.

"In 2017, Jones allowed just 5.44 yards per target and 0.74 yards per snap in coverage, ranking fourth and seventh among off-ball linebackers with at least 200 coverage snaps, respectively," PFF's Austin Gayle writes. "He also earned a 94.8 coverage grade for his efforts last season, which led all qualifying linebackers.

"Jones' ability to impact the passing game from the linebacker position is unparalleled, and now having earned 81.3-plus overall grades in each of the past two seasons, his place among the NFL's elite off-ball linebackers can be cemented with another outstanding performance in 2018."

While Jones' play in coverage has been superb for the Falcons, he's also proven to be a rangy, sideline-to-sideline tackler who is an effective three-down linebacker. Jones has also shown a flair for making big plays in critical moments, most recently intercepting Drew Brees in the end zone to clinch a Falcons victory over their rival on Thursday Night Football in 2017.

In his two NFL seasons, Jones has recorded 244 tackles, 21 pass defenses, six interceptions and scored two touchdowns.

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