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The role that new Rams linebacker Jamir Jones is most likely suited to play

What qualities does Jones bring that interested Les Snead and Sean McVay for this season?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Like many of us, Jamir Jones was largely driven to succeed based on a commitment to his mother. A pact to work hard as reciprocation for all the hard work she’s done for him. Lakeischa Jones worked double shifts as a nurse so that she could send sons Jarron and Jamir to Aquinas Institute to play in a good athletic program, to stay out of trouble, and to go to college.

Both Jarron and Jamir did attend college, and because they worked hard, were both offered scholarships to play football at Notre Dame. As reported by NDInsider when Jamir committed in 2016, moments like that are what make the hard work worth it for Lakeischa.

“This is what people dream of. People pay money to do this thing. Look at Joe Schmidt. He gave up other scholarships to just be on this football team and go to Notre Dame. My kids get offered the opportunity walking in the door. Free. F-R-E-E. I have to pay nothing, so I enjoy the ride.”

Though Jamir Jones was a star player on the Aquinas Institute football team, in a way it was his immense talent that worked against him in the recruiting process. At one point, the team’s quarterback broke his wrist and head coach Chris Battaglia didn’t have an immediate backup plan (Said Battaglia in 2016: “So before I can even call Jamir, Jamir calls me and says, ‘I’ll do whatever the team needs.’ I mean, where do you find a kid like that?”) so Jamir Jones became the quarterback.

It also meant that he wasn’t getting as much time putting tape on defense and before they offered, Notre Dame wanted to see Jones workout for the team in person. He was impressive enough to get an offer on the spot, which he immediately accepted.

Unfortunately, Jamir Jones’ journey towards playing on defense again would begin with a three-year wait.

As a true freshman, Jamir played for one season with his older brother Jarron, a senior starting defensive tackle on Notre Dame’s defense. Jamir made eight tackles, all on special teams, which is still impressive for a true freshman. But from 2016 to 2018, Drue Tranquill — now a starting linebacker for the LA Chargers — ruled the linebacker position at Notre Dame, as well as three-year starter Te’Von Coney. There were few opportunities for Jones and he only had 24 tackles over his first three seasons combined, many on special teams.

Jamir Jones finally got his opportunity as a senior in 2019 and he couldn’t have scripted a better start to his first season as a regular on defense: one sack in each of his first four games, plus two forced fumbles.

However, this did not carry through the season, as Jones only partook in one sack over his six games and while he may have been just as good of a player during that period of time there was still not a lot of production or tape for NFL teams to go off of during his career. Jones left Notre Dame after four seasons, a position change to defensive end, and 50 tackles. He may not have even played one game at linebacker.

But he was probably still driven throughout his time at Notre Dame by Lakiescha to some extent, as she was also known to get involved with Jarron’s free time when he was playing for the Irish (again via NDInsider: “So I called him and said, ‘Did you sign up for yoga class?’ ‘No, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna.’ “I heard too many, ‘I’m gonna’s.’ I said, ‘OK, tell me who I can call to make sure it happens.’ He gave me (strength and conditioning coach Paul) Longo’s number, I called coach Longo, and there you have it.”) and eventually Jamir Jones got his opportunity at Notre Dame’s pro day in 2020.

Jones measured in at 6’3, 237 lbs, and his 79” wingspan is nearly as long as 6’6 offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg’s. But his 4.71 40-yard dash time is not exceptional and Jones wasn’t drafted last year. He signed with the Houston Texans, but waived before training camp and he was not picked up by another team until the Pittsburgh Steelers this past April.

You’ve probably heard by now that Jones excelled in the preseason this year, and that truly is notable because not only has he not played very much linebacker in his life, but he hasn’t played that much football over the last five years period. But that could also potentially serve as a hindrance to Jones’ chances to play linebacker right now.

Jones made the Steelers final 53-man roster and stepped in for 36 snaps over the last two games, but was waived and that’s how he ended up on the Rams. Pittsburgh wanted to keep Jones but they also knew the risk they were taking and most likely the biggest loss here for the Steelers — and gain for LA — is the 29 special teams snaps that Jones played in over the first three games.

It was special teams that Jones could cut his teeth on at Notre Dame and when you’re in the position of being placed on waivers with the hopes of making it to the practice squad, it’s means you’re low on a depth chart somewhere and special teams will be your role if you’re active on game day. The Rams have added Jones to their roster and though there are issues at linebacker because of injuries and certainly this is a move that adds depth at linebacker, it is most likely in the hopes that one day Sean McVay can sneak Jamir Jones onto the practice squad.

And if he does, he can expect a call from Lakiescha Jones. One more hat-top to NDInsider’s excellent reporting:

“Lakiescha’s a machine,” said Battaglia, who coached both Jarron and Jamir. “She’s a very involved mother. I don’t believe any of the boys would have made it to where they’ve made it without two quality parents and without Lakiescha being as involved as she is.

“When you’re a coach, you become close to people. But that family I’ve become very close to. She took nothing from any of her kids. She made them toe the line, and because they toed the line two of them are at Notre Dame and the other two have graduated from college.”

And Jamir Jones is still fighting for his next opportunity. The journey from double shifts to the NFL isn’t over.