Syracuse coach says best is yet to come with Chandler Jones
|05.09.12 at 10:40 pm ET|
If you were a broker, you might call Chandler Jones is a long-term investment for the Patriots.
Many agree that Jones, who was taken in the first round of the NFL draft late last month by New England, is a work in progress. That’s not to say he won’t have a sizable impact in his first season with the Patriots, but there’s a feeling among many who have watched him play that his best days are ahead of him. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said that ‘three years from now, [Jones] might be the best defensive end in football,’ while ESPN’s Todd McShay says Jones ‘has a chance to be a star’ and is ‘just starting to scratch the surface.’
Jones’ college position coach says the same thing.
‘The Patriots are in for a surprise,’ said Syracuse defensive ends coach Tim Daoust, who worked with Jones last season. ‘I genuinely believe his best football is ahead of him.’
Jones, taken at No. 21 overall by the Patriots, is a long, lean player in the mold of Willie McGinest, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end who is known for his ability to get after the quarterback. He secured a first-team Big East nod in 2011 even after missing the first five games of the season with a knee injury. In seven games, Jones managed to accumulate 39 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks, one forced fumble and an interception.
‘He’s a perimeter player, a guy that lines up on the end of the line, whether you want to call him a linebacker or defensive end, but he’s an end-of-the-line player,’’ Patriots coach Bill Belichick told Sirius XM Radio shortly after the pick was made. ‘He’s got great length — height, arm length — [and] very athletic. He came out early, missed part of the season last year with an injury, but the opportunity he’s had to play he’s been very productive against a lot of good players in his conference, so we thought that he’d be able to work against NFL-type tackles.
‘We played both odd and even front last year, I think we’ll continue to be multiple that way, but he’s more of an end-of-the-line player.’
Jones does have that long, lean, end-of-the-line look about him, but he also brings some versatility to the field, according to Daoust.
‘I know that the Patriots have a track record of taking versatile players who are also high-IQ guys, and Chandler fits that mold. He’s an extremely coachable kid who is also very intelligent,’ Daoust said. ‘He’s able to take coaching very quickly when he gets out there on the football field.
‘Another thing with Chandler is that a lot of people see the pass-rushing ability, and that’s very important. But at 6-foot-5 with those arms, he’s a long kid when it comes to coverage. I’m not saying he’s ready to drop into coverage now, but he’s a tough target to throw around, and eventually, in a 3-4 scheme, if he’s playing end, I think he can drop into coverage.’
One thing that should make the transition easier is the fact that Jones comes from a family with a few other professional athletes — brother Arthur is in the NFL already with the Ravens, while his other brother Jonny is an MMA star. Daoust believes that their experiences — as well as the stable and consistent messages from his parents — will make the transition easier for Jones than some other rookies.
‘His family — his Mom and Dad and brothers, they are all extra close, so the experience that his brothers have gone through will help him,’ Daoust said. ‘I know Chandler talks with his brothers on a daily basis. His brother Arthur went through the process when he was at Syracuse, and so Chandler had the chance to witness the draft process and transition to the pros firsthand. The same is true with Jon and the success he’s having.
‘There’s no question in my mind that he learned a lot about how to handle the press and keep a level head through everything from the experiences his brothers went through. He knows that all the hype and all the accolades don’t add up to a whole lot at the end of the day. It’s about the work, and I know he’s ready to put the work in.’