With the dust settling on the 2012 NFL Draft, we decided to dig up some information on the newest members of the Patriots. We took some time to get to know Chandler Jones by speaking with Jared Smith of CNYSportsfan.com. Jared covered Syracuse football this past season and was able to bring some unique insights into the Patriots' top pick. Here is our Q&A session with him below:
1. The big rise on the draft boards was Chandler Jones? Do you think he is a perceived "workout warrior"? If not, what about him made him rise up to a late first round pick this week?
A: I don't know officially if Jones is a so-called "workout warrior", but I am very certain one of the reasons why he flew up NFL draft boards was because of his off-the-field character. Jones is a stand-up guy who is related to two brothers -- Arthur and Jon -- who're successful professionally.
I am sure the Patriots saw his physically tools and his ability to get the passer, and said, "with the right attitude and coaching we can make this guy a star."
2. Mike Greenberg on ESPN Radio today said that Jones is a Lawrence Taylor type of player? Do you agree with this assessment? If not, which NFL player do you think he best resembles?
As much as I hope the best for Chandler, the comparisons to Lawrence Taylor are just ridiculous. In all honesty, I believe Jones was a reach in the first round and would have been better suited as a second- to third-round project player.
I am just not buying that Jones is going to make an impact during the 2012-13 season, as his production at Syracuse University (14.5 sacks in 39 collegiate games) just doesn't show a guy ready to make that type of impact yet.
With that said, I think Jones can be a good player, maybe a Pro-Bowler at some points, but I am not at all buying a future All-Pro or Hall-Of-Famer. But if you ask any Syracuse fan, "Do you think he's better than former Syracuse pass-rusher Dwight Freeney (who went No. 11 overall in 2002)?" Almost 90-percent of them would say, no.
I think maybe the better comparison is maybe Simeon Rice, who was a pass-rushing sensation for the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a few years. However, at this point, even that is a bit of a stretch just because his numbers in college don't show a consistent double-digit passer.
3. How can he fit in to the Patriot system on a team that had to add pass rushers?
Jones has a knack for finding the quarterback and he's versatile -- so, he can play in both the 4-3 as a pass-rushing end or in the 3-4 as a pass-rushing linebacker. And, Patriots fans know how the Patriot system likes to adjust on the fly or do whatever it takes to win a game. Jones is that type of player. If you tell him to do something he'll do it and he'll do it well.
4. What are some weaknesses to Jones' game?
A few things pop into my mind about Jones, and this is probably why I don't see him as an immediate-impact player but understand why he went in the first round.
First, he doesn't have that huge speed-power combination that many very successful NFL pass-rushers do (i.e. Dwight Freeney). Which is why I think it will take a bit for him to develop.
Eventually, I think Jones can get there, as he has the right coaches in place to build up the strength and teach him how to increase his potential.
My other worry about Jones is health, as he played in just seven games in 2010 and '11. He progression as a player probably was hurt by that and if he can't stay healthy in the NFL, so will his professional progression.
5. In the end, what do you think Jones' career will project out to be?
As a media guy who covered Jones, I wish him well. However, if I am betting large sums of money on my projection of Jones as a NFLers, I say he doesn't work out as well as people think.
I think Jones can be a solid rotational DE who can rush the passers, but as a all-around, impact first-rounder I just don't see it.