Chandler Jones Leaves Syracuse, Decides to Enter NFL Draft. Smart Decision?

#99 leaves the Orange defense with a major hole to fill.

(Update: 3:32p. Everyone’s favorite light-hearted defensive end has chosen the pros. Via Twitter, Jones posted: “I have decided to forego my final football season at Syracuse University and enter the 2012 NFL Draft.” #99 would add, “I just want to thank all the Cuse fans, alum, teammates & coaches for supporting me these three years.” 

This is obviously a tough blow to Doug Marrone’s attempt in getting SU back into a bowl game. Chan was not only the emotional leader of the unit, he was also the best player on it. While injuries and a lack of talent surrounding him led to a down season, Jones’ impact will be extraordinarily hard to replicate. Losing Marinovich on the other side means SU has to find bookend replacements on the line, all while filling the void left by Phillip Thomas.

Was it the smart move for Jones? Depends. It’s not like he is going in without strong consultation. His brother Art has gone through the process before. Chan also tweeted he’s set to graduate in May. He’ll likely earn a hefty paycheck in the fall. Hard to argue right? He must have a good sense of being drafted in the first five rounds, because anything outside of that would be a crapshoot and no guarantee to make the team out of camp. 

But by playing on a non-bowl team and missing significant time due to injury, there’s no way his stock is as high as it could be had he returned for a monster senior season. Orange fans have to wish Jones the best of luck. He’s been a great ambassador for the program, and was as charismatic as any SU player in years. He’s magnetic, people are drawn to him, and no box score can reflect what that means to a team which has fought to bring fans back. 

It makes you wonder if the torturous nature of the collapse helped push Jones away. This could not have been a fun season for him, and Chan is – if nothing else – enjoys his fun. Maybe he was gone either way. A great season ending with another postseason may have driven his stock high enough to where it would have been silly to come back. Chan has always been incredibly gracious to The Fizz. We’re rooting for him the entire way. But from a football standpoint, this is a huge loss for SU. Marrone now has to rectify a defense without its two best players. 


* * * 

Chandler Jones has told us all via Twitter he will announce his decision about the NFL Draft today at 3:30. Make no mistake, this marks an enormous offseason moment for Doug Marrone and Orange football.

The Syracuse defense was one of the major reasons for the 5-game collapse, especially when Jones was not on the field. The lack of playmakers on that side of the ball was evident, and it was exploited in the month Chan lost due to injury. He’s clearly the best player on the SU defense, the most important pass rusher on the team.

The year-long suspension of Phillip Thomas takes another bite out of the defense, and starting defensive end Mikhail Marinovich will graduate as well. Losing Chandler would be a devastating blow to an already mediocre pass rush, putting even more pressure on a shaky secondary.

This is a pivotal moment in the Marrone Era. Another sub .500 season and no bowl would make Doug’s seat fairly warm. SU has been unable to land the big fish in recruiting who could easily step in and become a force on defense (Ishaq Williams, Jarron Jones). The best talent in the ’12 class looks to be on the offensive side of the ball (Sugar Bear Thompson, George Morris). The top recruiter on staff is a former running back (Tyrone Wheatley), and Marrone’s background is on offense.

Chan has been a lynchpin on D, and provides a rare SU matchup problem on every play for opponents. It doesn’t feel like the best time for Jones to go pro just yet. His stock may have dropped after missing several games and playing on a bad Orange defense. He fell well short of his stated goal of (an absurd) 30 sacks. His numbers fell because he faced a ton of double teams. Many have pegged him as a 4th or 5th-round pick, which would mean he has plenty of room next season to lift his draft slot.

Chandler is a smart, friendly, down to Earth kid who “gets it” much like his brothers. With a stable family, and Art already going through the draft process, he should see the potential for a breakout senior year. He will be the defensive centerpiece, have a chance to play a full season and showcase his talent. The Fizz guess: Chandler decides this afternoon to return to the Orange for 2012.

Posted: Alex Plavin

20 Comments on this Post

  1. orangeskin

    The best move would be for him to return, because he’s really not slotted that high in the draft. The problem also is that there’s not that much good film on him from last season, which would mean that if he has a bad combine, he’s not getting drafted, or is a 6th or 7th round pick. However, I get the feeling he’s gone. I hope I’m wrong, but that’s my gut feeling. I think a year long suspension for Thomas was too severe, and the defense is going to stink again next year. Their only hope of being at least decent next year is Chandler returning. If SU has another sub .500 season next year (and I think they will) Marrone’s seat should get “warm” and some of the defensive coaches, like Schafer, should be canned. There may be changes on the offensive side too since play calling was clearly an issue this year. They need to get a good recruiter on the defensive side of the ball, or the good doctor may be trying to pry Peterson loose from Boise State next winter (and will likely fail trying).

  2. Fingers crossed!

  3. orangeskin

    Not looking good. Just read that he got a 3rd round grade from the NFL advisory committee and there are already multiple reports on Twitter that he’s gone. Sometimes it stinks to be right.

  4. Alex Plavin

    Yea…seems like I may have been off on this one. Tony Pauline from SI is reporting he got a 3rd round grade from the advisory board and is likely gone. Sounds like Art coming back and getting hurt costing him draft position played a big role in this decision. Obviously this isn’t for sure, but doesn’t sound good for the Orange.

  5. Art was ten times the football player he is.

  6. How will they ever make up those 3.5 sacks per year.

  7. orangeskin

    If SU doesn’t make a bowl game next year, and I’m predicting now that they don’t, Schafer is gone at a minimum. Their D line is going to have 2 new guys with no impact defensive recruits in the past 2 years. To me, that’s a recipe for 4 wins at the most. SU needs to sign a JUCO for the line because they got nothing coming in, and may have to convert an OL to DL just for numbers sake. I have a lot of confidence in Coach Marrone, but this is a bad development after the end of a bad season for the defense. No Marinovich, Chan Jones or Phillip Thomas is big trouble. Coach Marrone may have to become a little more forgiving of his players. I was at SU when Marrone played there, and he was hardly a saint. He needs to have a sit down with his mentor Coach Mac and retool the program accordingly. SU needs to be more than a level better when they enter the ACC. Otherwise, they will be getting housed weekly. Their only “breaks” will be if they get to play BC, Duke, MD or maybe Wake. Virginia is better now, and obviously teams like Clemson, Va. Tech, Fla State and Ga. Tech are going to crush the Orange unless the talent level increases pronto. The game day coaching needs to improve too. Not enough halftime adjustments and the play calling, well let’s just say that needs to improve too.

  8. Shamarko Thomas just tweeted: “I gotta decide my path of success tomorrow”

    Doug’s got his work cut out for him.

  9. It’s not all bad. At least the coaches can honestly boast to potential recruits that going to su will give you a decent opportunity to go to the NFL.

  10. Daniel Bayliss

    Shamarko just tweeted again: “I’ve decided to put my NFL career on hold for another year and will remain at SU for another season to further develop myself as an athlete”

  11. If Shamarko had left for the draft I would’ve said the Mayans were right and 2012 is the end of days.

  12. Daniel Bayliss

    This team needs some good news fast. Thank goodness the Big East won’t let them take the fast lane to the ACC. They need to tune it up on the field and on the recruiting path before they make the jump.

  13. So, what’s next? I wish I could tell you. An SU Orange fan for life!

  14. The team is poor because of ryan naassib. Look what happened to the colts. Nassib sucks.

  15. Vito nassib is not the only player on the team. As you saw in the USF game there were many dropped touchdown passes that nassib hit the players right on the numbers. Nothing he can do about that. Though I do think we need a quater back who can run were just not good enough to play pro style.

  16. The football season is a year away and the Syracuse fans (so called fans) with the mighty negative attitudes are popping out just as fast as zits on their faces.

    I think the decision that Chandler made is a huge mistake. It’s probably been his dream to play in the NFL since his Pop Warner days and the opportunity for him is now. I want to wish him well and good luck as he pursues his dream.

    Let’s all step back and take a look at the history of Syracuse Football,we survived the black boycott during Coach Malloney era and more recently we survived Coach Greg Robinson’s short tenure here.

    The program is heading into the fourth year under Coach Marrone. Let’s show a little patience and give him the time to develop a winning program.

    For anyone to call for his replacement(this early)is foolish and are probably the same people who write negative post about the program.

    The university needs to replace Nancy Cantor with a person like Mel Eggers and then bring in a new athletic director.
    We need to let Doug Marrone do his job.

    Happy New Years to all, and to all of the cry babies too.


  17. Injury was in his decision about leaving. But Jones and others also felt the programs locker room environment was just to hostile to stay. That’s a HCDM issue!!! The media just seems to sit on your hands here. From the time HCDM let go of players his first year to now and the mess the program has fallen into the media looks the other way. WHY??? Does HCDM has a free pass???? Or must be Bernie just makes better copy!!

  18. BostonJay

    Best of luck to Chandler Jones, a true class act and a fine representative of our prestigious U. As is his brother who I’m sure gave him some guidance after he saw his own stock drop by staying for his senior year.

    It’s scary to think what Matt Barkley and the Trojans will do to our D in 2012.

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