So you drafted Chandler Jones

"You like me, right?"

Ever heard the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? Oh, you have? Well then meet Chandler Jones. Some people can’t stop talking about how great he is, others can’t stop talking about how overrated he is. Let me show you what I’m talking about.

Josh Norris, draft writer for Rotoworld, doesn’t like him much.

Ryan Riddle, former NFL player and budding draft nik doesn’t see much to like either.

In general, draftniks present a unified front against Chandler Jones.

But then the experts and NFL Draft types just can’t get enough.

Mike Mayock says he’s the 9th best player in the draft. 

7. Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
8. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
9. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
10. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Greg Cosell projected him to the Eagles in his full meta mock draft saying:

With that said, the pick is Chandler Jones from Syracuse. Jones has an intriguing combination of size, length and athletic movement. I think of Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn, and I could easily envision Washburn looking at Jones, and seeing a better version of Jason Jones, whom Washburn coached in Tennessee for 3 years.

Mike Lombardi, NFL analyst and former NFL general manager has even gone so far as to compare Chandler Jones to Jason Pierre-Paul.

And the ESPN talking heads just loooooooove Chandler Jones. Todd McShay says that “I think the most underrated player maybe in the entire draft and certainly among defensive linemen is Chandler Jones.” And Mel Kiper said this in a mock draft earlier this month:

Listed as a defensive end at Syracuse, Jones has the talent, upside and a great frame to make the move to OLB in a pass-rushing role. He’s still a little raw, but the instincts are there and offensive linemen have a really tough time getting their hands on him. Could blossom into a star for the Chargers.

And ESPN’s third wheel Kevin Weidl loves Chandler Jones just as much.

Opinions, everyones got one. But not all opinions are created equal and one side of this debate is going to end up looking smarter a few years down the line. Which side? I’ll throw my opinion hat into the ring after the page break.

Yeah, I’m starting with comparisons:

I’m actually going to run with this Jason Pierre-Paul comparison for a minute and I’m going to toss in Aldon Smith too.

Category Chandler Jones Jason Pierre-Paul Aldon Smith
Height 6045 6046 6042
Weight 266 270 263
Arm Length 35.5” 34.6” 35.38”
Hand Size 9.75” 10.4” 9.75”
Wingspan 85 ¾” 81” 83 7/8”
10 Yard Split 1.63 1.65 1.68
40 Yard Dash 4.83 4.7 4.78
Vertical Jump 35” 30.5” 34”
Broad Jump 10’ 9’07” 9’10”
3 Cone Drill 7.07 7.18 7.22
20 Yard Shuttle 4.39 4.67 4.55
Bench Press Reps 22 19 20

Chandler Jones is a freak man, he tested better than Jason Pierre-Paul and Aldon Smith in nearly every single category. And as you can see, they’re all similar athletically. They’re all tall long armed passers with good first steps, speed to at least threaten the edge and counter off of it. And if Pierre-Paul and Smith are any indication, Jones should be a pretty damn good player. Smith and JPP have combined for 37.5 sacks in their first 3 years in the NFL, including the playoffs.

But here is what is interesting to me. People knock Chandler Jones’ production but people did the same thing to Jason Pierre-Paul and Aldon Smith. Just check this out, their production in the year before they declared for the draft:

Jason Pierre-Paul: 42 tackles, 19 TFL and 6.5 sacks
Aldon Smith: 48 tackles, 10 TFL and 5.5 sacks
Chandler Jones (in 7 games): 38 tackles, 8 TFL and 4.5 sacks

None of them were especially productive on paper. Its not about what they put out on stat sheets, its about what they put out on tape.  And if you extrapolate Chandler Jones’ production over 12 games he would’ve had 65 tackles, 14 TFL and approximately 8 sacks.

So, lets get to those games.

Power and physicality:

You get a little peak at what Chandler Jones is all about right here. He shows a quick first step and he powers through the blockers’ arms. He is hands down the most physical defensive end in this class, he pulls no punches on the field. And unlike other gifted players (cough, Coples), Jones actually plays with a sense of urgency and isn’t content with being blocked.

Power and hustle are two things I’m not concerned about with Chandler Jones. Here are a few more plays that highlight just how physical and relentless he is:

You’re going to try and keep Chandler Jones from the running back? Chandler Jones will go through you.

Again, he just powers through the left tackle and he sacks the QB with one arm. Keeps his legs pumping upon contact and he takes a direct path to the QB.

He goes inside, Sunseri bails out of the pocket, Jones redirects and drives through the left shoulder of the left tackle.

He decides he is going to go through that left tackle and he puts him on his heels. Here is another example of how quick Jones can be getting off the snap and how much grass he can eat up with that long gait of his.

The Ability To Turn The Corner:

Slaps the blocker’s hands away and turns the corner to apply pressure on Geno Smith. Also notice who pops up onto the screen when that running back is dancing all around. Relentless.

Jones tries to bull rush so much that blockers start expecting it. Here on this play Jones does a little hesitation move that suggests he is going to go inside (again) but instead he redirects and goes outside the tackle who just over commit to Jones’ inside rush.

This is a good example of Chandler Jones bending and turning the corner. If Sunseri holds the ball longer, thats a sack.

Another example of Jones bending around the edge.

The Ability To Threaten The Edge:

I know I already showed this but it also fits under this category. The offensive tackle commits to Jones’ outside rush and Jones just counters to the inside where he is able to power through an unbalanced blocker. Subtle little move on Jones’ part right there.

Here you see him threaten the edge and then spin back inside to get in on a sack.

Here you see Jones make the tackle commit to his outside passrush and then he counters to the inside.

He does it again.

The Motor:

He comes crashing down on a run and shows good effort in pursuit. This is something you always see with Chandler Jones.

Watch where he starts and watch where he finishes. High motor. You’ll rarely find a change of pace and his effort in pursuit is great.

Not a great initial pass rush from him. He tries to go through the LT but he doesn’t use his hands well and he exposes his chest which allows the LT to control him. But, Jones makes an effort to get off the block and on his second effort he sacks a stumbling Geno Smith. This is a huge positive as far as I’m concerned, too often we get enamored with these small little situational pass rushers who don’t do anything if they don’t win with their first move, Chandler Jones showcases the ability to work through contact and win with his second or third move.

Doesn’t win the pass rush battle but he has the presence of mind to throw those vines he calls arms into the air and tip the pass.

Gets to the sideline and makes the tackle on a screen play.

Jones sees where Sunseri is going with the ball, falls off his blocker and then he goes up and gets the ball. Impressive play.

Look how far downfield he ends up in pursuit of the running back.

The Conclusion:

Chandler Jones is an upside pick. He’s not a dynamo speed rusher who is going to make NFL tackles whiff like Dwight Freeney but he’s a big, long and physical pass rusher who is athletic enough. Maybe I’m just over compensating for missing on Jason Pierre-Paul and Aldon Smith but I’m going to side with the network talking heads on this one.

Pros: Extremely good length to keep blockers off his frame and to disrupt the passing game by reaching into passing lanes … Powerful, violent hands … Physical player who can rock a blocker backwards on contact … Explodes into contact and takes direct paths to the quarterback … Showcases good hand usage a majority of the time… Flashes quickness off the snap … His ability to threaten the edge is underrated primarily because he was used as an interior, 5 technique pass rusher at Syracuse … Strong pass rusher who can fight through contact and get to the passer … Unreal motor … Good flexibility to bend and attack the edge for a guy his size … Flashes counter moves on the edge … Is an extremely willing run defender … Good tackler … Good core strength to handle one on one blocks in run defense … Gets upfield quickly when rushing the passer thanks to his long strides … Very versatile … Didn’t produce huge sack numbers but he consistently created pressure and wreaked havoc

Cons: Needs to bulk up … Needs to learn to play lower and with better leverage … Needs to be more consistent … Could use more pass rush moves, especially ones he can work with off of his bull rush because if he develops those he could become a big time sack producer … Out of control as a run defender, I like his motor and intensity but he needs to learn the importance of keeping contain and being a part of a picket fence … Not a big hitter, more of a drag down guy thanks in part to his average closing speed … Not a coordinated runner … Not very good long speed, definitely don’t want him running down the seam with a TE … Not very productive

Summary: Jones has the talent and potential coupled with the motor and “want to” to reach his potential. He’s a good all around player who is still developing as a pass rusher, he could become even more effective if he’s allowed to rush the passer from further outside than he was at Syracuse. He could potentially play 3-4 WLB, 5 technique, RE, LE or 3 technique, he’s a very versatile talent who can be used in a number of ways.

Its all in the family:

Last year the Eagles drafted a bunch of guys with NFL bloodlines. Casey Matthews obviously came from the infamous Matthews family tree that includes 3 generations of NFL players including Clay Matthews II, Bruce Matthews and Clay Matthews III. Greg Lloyd Jr is the son of legendary Steelers linebacker Greg Lloyd. And Brian Rolle is cousins with Antrel Rolle, Samari Rolle and Myron Rolle and he’s also second cousins with Chad Johnson. So drafting Chandler Jones, the brother of Ravens defensive tackle Arthur Jones and MMA champion Jon Jones would only add to the impressive family trees that the Eagles have collected lately.

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