In three years at Syracuse Chandler Jones only recorded 10.5 sacks, 4.5 of which came in an injury-hit 2011 campaign where he missed five games. The sign of an underachiever? Or maybe someone who’s best days will come in the NFL? There’s something raw and edgy about his play and as an athletic pass rusher in a class lacking a lot of top-end talent, he could be one of the players who’s set for a big rise after the combine.
At the moment he’s more of an athlete than a complete, rounded defensive end. He has a good frame – almost ideal for the LEO – listed at 6-5, 265lbs with a lean frame with minimal body fat. Jones doesn’t flash a lot of technical ability and certainly he doesn’t have a great repertoire of moves, but he doesn’t take many plays off and he’s shown enough speed off the edge to warrant consideration in the second or third round range. He’s also quite inconsistent as you’ll see in the tape, but there’s enough here to intrigue teams like Seattle who are looking to give their pass rush a shot in the arm and maybe fill the roll currently occupied by pending free agent Raheem Brock.
As with most defensive ends playing at this size, Jones isn’t an orthodox fit for 4-3 teams unless he’ll be working mainly as a specialist. At Syracuse he switched between taking snaps in space (LEO) and working in a three-man front and it’s good to see he wasn’t overwhelmed when Syracuse dropped extra players into coverage. He’s still a bit small to act as a pure end in the 4-3 and I’m torn as to whether he’ll fit at OLB in the 3-4. He’s not going to be a consistent run-stopper as you’d probably expect at 265lbs, but he needs to get stronger in the upper body and try to add an effective bull rush to his game. Too many times he engages a tackle and gets very minimal push. There’s also times – especially in the WVU tape – where he flashes well against the run and holds his position even when taking on two blockers. His technique needs a little refining overall, but there’s a lot of potential to work with.
Jones sometimes struggles to read and react, making the wrong judgement as the play unfolds and getting out of position. He doesn’t diagnose run plays particularly well, especially on the draw, but a player like this you’re really concentrating on his abilities as a pass rusher. He’s enough of a threat working in space to interest the Seahawks possibly as early as round two – and don’t be surprised if they spend their first two picks in this year’s draft boosting the front seven.
He comes from a strong bloodline – his brother Arthur Jones was a highly rated 2010 draft prospect who surprisingly fell into the fifth round where he was selected by Baltimore. His other brother, Jon, fights in the UFC. I’ve broken down select plays from the games against Connecticut and West Virginia below. Tape courtesy of MarioCLP and Aaron Aloysius.
0:01 – Good contact with the left tackle to jolt him out of position and force an inaccurate throw/ interception.
0:26– If you want to know why he might run well at the combine, this play shows what he’s capable of. Great hustle to at least try and get downfield to save the touchdown, but it’s the athleticism and ability to move with the play that’s most impressive.
1:01 – Handles the block well from the H-back and bursts into the backfield to help force a loss on this run play. This is the kind of thing you want to see from an undersized defensive end – making plays against the run and not just relying on their ability to rush the passer in space.
1:21 – The other side of the story, because here he’s knocked off his feet by the H-back who gets his revenge and takes Jones out of this running play.
1:29 – Needs to be stronger here to shed the block a little sooner and prevent the first down. Although he makes the tackle, he’s moving backwards throughout and needs to do a better job holding his position.
1:47 – A great play on two levels. Firstly, he deals with a double-team and this time holds his position to make initial contact with the ball-carrier. Secondly, it’s a really opportunistic play to strip the ball and force the turnover.
2:38 – Collapses the pocket forcing the quarterback to move, ending the play before it develops. Great first step inside and beats his blocker before shoving an interior lineman aside. Disrupts the play and deserves credit even though he didn’t get the sack.
2:53 – Needs to be stronger at the P.O.A. The left tackle is deep and almost standing on the quarterbacks toes, plus he’s slightly off balance having dropped a little shallow. A good bull rush here puts the QB in trouble, but Jones is stoned by the tackle.
3:02 – Superb combination of edge speed, burst and hand use – exactly what you want to see from a LEO. He beats the tackle with ease and leans around the contact, brushing the blocker aside before getting to the quarterback for the sack and forced fumble/turnover. He brought the pressure on a three man rush, dominated his opponent and again showed the awareness to go for the football as well as make the tackle.
3:56 – Again great burst on the inside move showing he’s not just an edge rusher. Great side-step to dodge the interior lineman while remaining balance and avoiding contact with perfect hand use. Just misses the sack but forces the QB to step into the pocket.
4:25 – Better against the run, holding his position then disengaging to make the tackle for no gain.
1:47 – The first real evidence on the two videos of a bull rush. Here he drives back the left tackle who is completely dominated and makes the sack on Geno Smith. Good pursuit, ideal pad level and leans into the blocker keeping one arm free to tackle the quarterback. Showing the ability to move inside and counter will boost his draft stock and prove he’s not just a pure edge rusher.
2:06 – Struggles to disengage the block but makes an instinctive attempt to tip the ball into the air using his long arms. This could easily have been an interception with a little more fortune.
3:24 – Too easily dealt with against the run. Gets his body into a strange angle and makes the job of a square-on blocker very easy. Needs to be more disciplined in this situation to hold his position, doesn’t always have to try and make the big play.
3:34– Why is he looking down at the turf on this play? Is he off balance? If he keeps his head up and sees the runner, he could’ve forced a big loss.
3:44 – Reacts well to the play and quickly changes direction to make the tackle.
4:38 – Is well blocked on this play, but it looks as if he just gets enough on Smith’s throwing arm to force an under-thrown ball for an interception. It looks as if there’s contact.
5:22 – Continued effort, the second defensive player to get to the quarterback here and again has the awareness to go for the strip-sack. The ball comes loose and it’s almost a turnover.