Josey Jewell was a bit of an unknown recruit, even to Iowa, as a recruit coming from the home state. However, after spending a year at Division III Luther College, the Hawkeyes had their eyes on the in-state product. After playing sparingly as a freshman, Jewell took off in his final three seasons with the Hawkeyes.
Jewell put up 126 tackles, 7.5 for loss with four sacks and three interceptions as a sophomore. In 2016 he put up 124 tackles, with six for loss. And as a senior, Josey Jewell put up 132 tackles, 13.5 for loss with 4.5 sacks and two interceptions. Jewell was a Butkus Award finalist as a Junior and was a first-team All-American as a Senior. Does Jewell have the ability to translate to the NFL, or is he a college phenom worth passing on?
Jewell has the instincts and natural ability to flow to the football and make plays. He always near the football and has the ability to find the ball in the backfield. In the play below, watch how quickly he is able to process the play, fight through traffic and get into the backfield to drop Saquon Barkley down.
Josey Jewell is a sure tackler, and running downhill, he is able to fight through traffic to make run-stuffs.
Jewell has some speed to him as well, as he is able to track down Barkley after the catch and turn a third down into fourth. This is comforting as coverage is going to be where Jewell will be tested in the NFL.
Jewell also has the change of direction and foot quickness to go over the middle and stop on the dime for a curl with tight ends. Notice that he first is eyeing up the running back in motion. However, he is quick to stay in his role and pick up the tight end heading over the middle.
A lot of the weaknesses are going to come down to measurables. His worst game on tape came against Wisconsin. Wisconsin had such tall lineman that Jewell seemed to be struggling to see into the backfield. He was consistently choosing wrong holes and letting runs get outside. On the play below, he misses the initial read, tries to recover, and is shrugged off of the running backs legs, as his momentum has already been established.
Jewell has questionable height, length, and overall athleticism. He has foot quickness but may not have the speed to maintain every down in coverage. His sideline to sideline speed is closer to average than extraordinary and his strength in the trenches will be tested.
Reggie Ragland, Alabama
Ragland does not have the size either but maintains as a better run defender than pass defender. Ragland can maintain coverage as well due to his quick feet and instincts. He is fast, but not a burner who can flow sideline to sideline. He is better off playing the strong side role, although he can be comfortable in a variety of schemes.
Josey Jewell could see himself in a role where he works from special teams for a year or two and maybe has to find a change in homes. Still, he can find a starting job in the NFL as a linebacker.
A fit for Steelers?
The issue with fitting Josey Jewell on the Steelers would be the short-term implications. In the vacuum that he is the only offseason addition at linebacker, and the team is expecting him to start next to Vince Williams, it would not be a good idea. There would not be enough speed on the field.
However, in the idea that he can take over the role L.J. Fort or Tyler Matakevich has held down, and in a pinch, the team could rely on him to start at either inside spot, that is a solid addition to the team. This would require the team to add more to the linebacker position, but let’s face it, the Steelers are in the hole they are in because they did not put enough into that position. If that means overcompensating, and taking Jewell in a middle round to top off a free agent or first round pick, it was a necessary addition given the circumstances.