In a whirlwind two months that saw Chandler Jones skyrocket from a third-round grade to 21st overall pick by the Patriots, The Fizz has been tracking his story. We’ve dissected all the reasons for his dramatic rise, but now it’s time to look ahead. The big questions now are will Chandler fit in New England and how soon will he get on the field?
A few months ago, we questioned whether leaving early was the right move for Jones. But last night proved it was – tenfold. Jones couldn’t have hoped for a better first-round landing spot than a legitimate Super Bowl contender that desperately needs pass rushers. Despite his relative lack of production at SU, Bill Belichick clearly believes in Chandler’s potential and character. The Pats lost one of its double-digit sackers in free agency (Marc Anderson) and another to injury (Andre Carter), meaning a huge opportunity for Chandler to play right away. The Patriots also pulled off a rare feat for the notoriously conservative franchise – trading up grab him. The Pats aggression in nabbing him can only increase his chances of getting on the field.
In addition to likely playing right away, Jones will no longer see the constant double and triple teams like he did at SU. He will in one of the most complex defensive schemes in the league, and Chandler’s intelligence and football instincts will be a huge advantage. Chandler can be used both as a 3-4 edge rusher and a 4-3 defensive end, and that versatility will allow him to get plenty of snaps.
There will be times where Chandler struggles this year. He may have been overdrafted a few slots based on potential, and he if doesn’t produce quickly Patriots fans may be frustrated. Despite being considered one of the greatest coaches ever, Belichick has made several questionable draft picks recently (Chad Jackson, Ron Brace, Lawrence Maroney, Terrance Wheatley, Darius Butler were all taken in the first two rounds) so Pats fans may naturally be a little skeptical right away with Chandler.
He may develop into an every down defensive end, but right now only expect to see Chandler on passing downs. He’s tall and lean, and could get muscled in the running game. He will be a solid option on passing downs, because he can not only rush the passer, but also drop into coverage.
There may be some growing pains, but it’s hard to imagine a more perfect fit for Chandler than the Patriots. He will be coached by one of the greatest of all time, has a chance to play right away and compete for a title, something he never could dream of with SU.
Posted: Alex Plavin