Louis Delmas impressed 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh on his visit to San Francisco

Posted Mar 18, 2013

Harbaugh, who met with the then-free agent, says he can see Delmas becoming a "heck of a coach" after his playing career

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Good news for potential-top-five draft prospect Jarvis Jones could be very good news for any team wanting to draft an impact pass rusher on April 25.

Since the Lions have the fifth pick, they would be impacted by good news regarding Jones and the spinal stenosis condition that has caused concern about its impact on his pro career.

This week's Monday Countdown starts with what one prominent NFL general manager said about Jones.

There's also an insight into how safety Louis Delmas was romanced by 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh but did not leave his heart in San Francisco and signed back with the Lions, a look at how Matthew Stafford is unnecessarily getting a bad rap over not restructuring his contract and how veteran depth on the offensive line has been dramatically reduced since the end of last season.

We start with Jones:

1. Sticking your neck out: The University of Georgia's pro day is Thursday. Jones may participate or he may stand on his performance from the NFL Scouting Combine last month. Either way, one thing Jones might not have to prove to NFL personnel evaluators anymore is his health.

A general manager for a perennial Super Bowl contender was asked Sunday at the NFL owners meetings if Jones is healthy enough to play in the NFL.

"Heck yeah," the GM said without hesitation. "He's played the last two years."


"Yeah. Really," he repeated.

If Jones has a clean bill of health, any team that wants to draft a pass rusher will have to think hard before passing on Jones in favor of other prospects in consideration. That includes Dion Jordan of Oregon, Ziggy Ansah of Brigham Young and Barkevious Mingo of LSU. And Mingo might be the best of the three. Or all four, Jones included, for that matter.

There is no question about the way Jones terrorized quarterbacks while competing in the SEC, the best football conference in America.

Primarily an outside rush linebacker in Georgia's 3-4 scheme, Jones led the SEC in sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (19.5) in 2011. He repeated in 2012, with 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles.

At 6-2 and 245 pounds, Jones does not have ideal height to play defensive end. And there might be a question of whether he's more suited to play outside linebacker or defensive end in the pros.

The one negative on Jones' resume, and it is not an inconsiderable one, is the spinal stenosis that caused him to leave Southern Cal after his freshman year in 2009. The school would not clear him to continue playing.

Jones transferred to Georgia and sat out the 2010 season under NCAA rules involving transfers of athletes.

At the NFL Scouting Combine last month, Jones said he has been symptom-free since enrolling at Georgia and that he has no reluctance to play.

It was reported last week that orthopedist Craig Brigham has sent a memo to NFL teams which states "Jarvis Jones is cleared to play without restriction."

The doctor's memo, the GM's endorsement and assurances from Jones that he's healthy do not mean there is no risk in drafting Jones. But if a team hits it right on Jones, it will have an instant playmaker – something the Lions lacked in their outside rush last year.

2. Harbaugh on Delmas: Delmas visited the St. Louis Rams and and San Francisco 49ers before signing a two-year contract on Friday to remain with the Lions.

Though he left without a deal, Delmas made an impression on Jim Harbaugh.

"I really liked him," Harbaugh said Sunday. "I spent some time with him. I really enjoyed being around him. He knows football. He knows the game. I can see the guy becoming a heck of a coach.

"Detroit offered more and got him back."

3. Bargaining chips: Staying with the Lions was always Delmas' first choice, but the visits to the Rams and 49ers weren't for show, agent Drew Rosenhaus said Sunday.

In the end, the Lions got Delmas back with a two-year contract that represented a better offer than he could have gotten from the Rams or 49ers. The way the contract is written, Delmas can be a free agent in two years. That also played into his decision to sign back with the Lions.

"That's correct," Rosenhaus said. "He had really good visits with the Rams and 49ers. The Lions always do a really good job of re-signing their players. I give the Lions a lot of credit for that. It made the most sense."

4. Recovery time: The hangover effect of the 49ers' 34-31 Super Bowl loss to the Ravens has eased for Harbaugh.

"For a couple of weeks, your chin is hanging," he said. "Then you start pawing the ground, getting ready again."

Matthew Stafford

5. The Stafford file: The critics are out because Stafford did not restructure his contract this year to give the Lions' more salary-cap room to sign free agents.

Everything's fair game in this era, but it should not be forgotten that Stafford restructured his contract in 2011 and again last year.

Players do not give money back when they restructure. In a restructure, base salary is converted to signing bonus, and the players gets more money up front in turn for an accounting procedure that lowers the cap value.

6. The 500 Club – reduced: At the end of last season, the Lions had five starting offensive linemen who had started 538 career games as Lions – Jeff Backus (191), Dominic Raiola (172), Stephen Peterman (86), Gosder Cherilus (71) and Rob Sims (48).

Backus retired Friday. Cherilus signed with Indianapolis as a free agent. Peterman was released. That cuts 348 games of starting experience off the offensive line.

The remaining players have 231. Of that total, Riley Reiff has one start and Dylan Gandy and Corey Hilliard have five each. Raiola and Sims account for the other 220.