Rams’ Ernest Jones barely cracks PFF’s list of top 32 linebackers in NFL

Though Aaron Donald rightfully got a lot of attention as the centerpiece of the Rams’ defense last season, Ernest Jones was also a critical part of Raheem Morris’ unit – a unit that exceeded expectations given the lack of star power outside of Donald. Jones was the signal caller at inside linebacker, a terrific run defender and an underrated blitzer, becoming an all-around solid defender for Los Angeles.

His 37 pressures led all inside linebackers last season, according to Pro Football Focus, while his six sacks were tied for the fourth-most at his position. As a run defender, he was equally good. His grade of 86.2 was the seventh-best among all linebackers, making 35 total stops to tie for ninth at his position.

That apparently wasn’t enough to rank Jones high on PFF’s own list of the league’s best linebackers heading into the 2024 campaign. PFF put Jones 30th on its list of the top 32 linebackers in the NFL.

Jones led all linebackers in quarterback pressures (37) last season and ranked seventh at the position with an 86.2 PFF run-defense grade. His 57.5 PFF coverage grade highlights his limitations, which is why he’s not higher on this list, but he is a very good run defender.

The Rams have opted not to extend Jones before the start of the regular season, letting him play out the final year of his rookie contract before potentially re-signing him in 2025. That should be added motivation for the former South Carolina linebacker as he tries to prove he’s one of the best linebackers in football.

If he can just improve in coverage a bit and maintain his stellar level of play as a run defender and blitzer, he’ll be in the top 15 of PFF’s list in short order.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire