Over the next few weeks I’ll highlight some players with first round buzz. One of these players who has quietly built some great momentum to end up in the first round of the draft is Syracuse DE Chandler Jones. Our Chandler Jones scouting report can be found here
Chandler Jones currently sits at number 60 on our big board. Jones did not have a terrific 2011 college football season in large part because of an injury that caused him to miss much of the season. In 2011, Jones played in 7 games and registered 38 tackles with 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 3 quarterback hurries. Jones best game came against the West Virginia Mountaineers when he registered 2 sacks and 6 tackles.
At the combine Jones measured in at 6’5 and 266 pounds with 35.5 inch long arms–and there is the key to Jones’ success. While he is a good athlete with pretty good straight line speed, his strength his in his extremely long arms. His size and length makes him in a way reminiscent to Jason Pierre Paul the former Big East Defensive End for South Florida and now dominating Defensive end for the New York Giants, but Pierre Paul is a better athlete and even larger than Jones.
Jones has good functional strength and active hands to keep himself clean. He also has a good, but inconsistent first step. He’s explosive enough to be a dangerous pass rusher, but needs to improve in his technique. He also is raw for a player he only had 7 games this year and despite playing more than 10 games his first two years he has never had more than 4.5 sacks in a season–which is dutiful production for a guy who was more physically gifted than almost everyone he lined up against on a weekly basis. Though we don’t think it’s an effort or conditioning issue.
Jones’ stock has been on the rise since the combine, but he also had a really good proday where he impressed a lot of scouts and received special interest from a team known for drafting pass rushers-the New York Giants.
Jones said a scout from the New York Giants showed more interest Thursday following up on his performance from the Combine and talked about the team’s history in drafting pass-rushers from the Big East, referring to former South Florida standout Jason Pierre-Paul, who emerged as one of the league’s leading sack totalers this season.
And the buzz doesn’t stop there. In a draft value chart complied by Profootballweekly Jones was listed as a late first round pick from the input PFW received from numerous teams.
What teams might entice Jones at the end of the first round? The first one that immediately jumps to mind is the New York Giants with the 32nd pick. And not because of the information that the scout showed interest in Jones, but because Jerry Reese has said before that the biggest indicator of successful pass rushers is not speed, or college production, but long arms. Chandler Jones is athletic, but above all he has long arms. If you look at the Giants defensive ends: Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre Paul, Osi Umeinyora they are all athletic, but they all are very long players who give consistent effort as well. That fits Jones to a T.
Another team that might consider Jones in the first round is the New England Patriots, but Jones is more of a 43 RDE to me than he is a 34 OLB so I think he’d be miscasted there, however they will probably look at defensive players and he could be a fit. The fact that I find Jones to be more of a 43 DE eliminates a lot of teams choosing late: Ravens, 49ers, Packers, Patriots all play 34. It does not mean that they agree with me and maybe they see Jones as an option. The other three 43 teams teams that pick later in the first round are the Denver Broncos at 25 and the Lions and Broncos. But that’s too early for me for Jones.
Jones also makes sense for the Giants because Osi Umeniyora and Mathias Kiwanuka will be free agents after the 2012 season and the Giants might look to brace for their losses by adding yet another talented pass rusher.
Chandler Jones is considered a late round value and he plays a premium position in the N.F.L. if a team feels comfortable with him as a 34 OLB he could go anywhere from pick 24 with Pittsburgh to the end of the first round. I still think first round is too early for Jones, but don’t be surprised if you hear his name called on the first day of the 2012 NFL Draft.
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