Chandler Jones was sitting in his brother’s living room surrounded by both his family and a group of reporters when he got the call. It was Bill Belichick, welcoming him as the newest member of the New England Patriots.
Jones comes from an incredibly athletic family. One of his brothers, Arthur, is a defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens. And his other brother, Jon “Bones” Jones, is the UFC world light-heavyweight champion. Those are some good bloodlines.
It was obvious what the Patriots would be looking for in this year’s NFL Draft. The defending AFC Champions struggled all year on defense. The team ranked 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed with an average of 293.9 a game. The defense also allowed 117.1 rushing yards per game, so it was clear the front office was going to try to turn that around.
The Patriots drafted six straight defensive players. The first of those new additions is former Syracuse Defensive End, Chandler Jones. With the 21st pick of the NFL draft, commissioner Roger Goodell stepped up and called his name.
Jones had a successful career in Orange. After not playing his freshman year, he racked up 33 solo tackles during his sophomore year. Overall, during his time at Syracuse, Jones made 101 solo tackles, 27 tackles for losses, 10 sacks, and five forced fumbles. He even had an interception during his senior year.
The Patriots current defensive line is in need of improvement. On the roster at defensive end is Brandon Deaderick, who made 17 tackles and two sacks last season and Jonathan Fanene, who made 24 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Vince Wilfork (who was also a Patriots’ first-round draft pick in 2004) was the guy last season picking up the slack for the D-line. He made 52 tackles and 3.5 sacks at nose tackle.
Jones offers versatility for the Patriots. He can play in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defensive scheme. He’s quick off the snap and can rush the passer most efficiently from the end. He ran a 4.87 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine and impressed scouts with a top five performance in the vertical jump.
His long 35.5-inch arms allow him to tip passes and wrap up ball carriers but many scouts have complained that Jones is undersized. He may have trouble against some of the talented offensive lineman the NFL has to offer.
This isn’t the first time the Patriots have drafted a Syracuse product in the first round. In 1998, New England selected safety Tebucky Jones who went on to win a Super Bowl with the team in 2001. The only other time was in 1960 when the Boston Patriots selected Gerhard Schwedes who led Syracuse to its only National Championship alongside Ernie Davis in 1959.
Chandler Jones is in good hands with the New England Patriots. Its coaching staff is known for taking guys like him and turning them into great NFL players. Defensive all-pro players like Ty Law, Richard Seymour and Ty Warren are good examples of that.