Just like Shea McClellin, who I wrote about yesterday, a prospect who has picked up a lot of momentum lately is defensive end Chandler Jones of Syracuse.
Jones is a 4th-year junior who redshirted in 2008, started some games but played mainly as a backup in 2009 and has been a fulltime starter the last 2 years at defensive end in a 3-man front.
Out of high school, Jones was a 2-star recruit who had offers from some Big East and MAC schools. He chose Syracuse because he is a central New York kid and his brother played for the Orange. His brother Arthur was a defensive tackle at Syracuse and now plays for Baltimore.
Jones is the type of player who got better every year. In 2009 he had 52 total tackles and 1.5 sacks, in 2010 he had 57 tackles and 4 sacks and then in 2011 playing in only 7 games he had 38 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He injured his knee in the season opener and missed the next 5 games.
Jones has excellent DE size measuring 6053 and 266 with a frame that can easily hold more weight. He has great length with 35.5” arms. He doesn’t have great speed (4.8) but he is very quick for 10 yards and his agility is a good as any defensive end in the draft. He is also explosive with a 35” vertical jump and a 10’ long jump.
Jones has very good snap reaction and initial quickness. With his long arms he seldom lets his opponent into his body and for an underclassman he has good hand use. While his sack numbers for 7 games is above average, he gets a lot of pressures and hits on the quarterback. He also has a knack for getting his hands up and batting down passes. In the Pittsburgh game he got an interception by getting his hands up quickly. He shows a variety of moves when pass rushing, he can beat his man with speed to the outside, can use a counter move and come back inside and he can bull rush. He plays with good bend and stays low when charging. As a run defender, he is instinctive and quick to react. He finds the ball and makes plays. He shows strength and power at the point and is able to shed blocks quickly to get to the ball. I like his motor; he plays aggressively and consistently chases the ball. He is a very reliable tackler.
Overall, I’m hearing that some 3-4 teams see him as an OLB. I don’t see the suddenness they would want the player to have in coverage. I see him more as a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive end. If he is drafted by a 3-4 team, he will need to bulk up some to be a consistent 5-technique player. Though he played on the right side at Syracuse he is a better fit to play on the left side in the NFL. One thing is certain: this is a player with a lot of upside. He is young and is only going to get better. Look for Jones to get drafted somewhere between 12 and 22 on Thursday night.