With the 2012 NFL Draft hours away, we will finally get to see where 32 1st-round prospects find new homes Thursday night.
Arguably no draft prospect has flown up the draft boards in recent weeks more than Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones.
The 6’5, 265 lb junior from Rochester, New York did not have a particularly impressive college career, but many scouts are enamored by his raw physicality and upside.
Certainly, Jones has the bloodlines. His oldest brother Arthur, also a defensive end, was a 2010 fifth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens.
Their most famous sibling, however, is UFC Light Heavyweight Champion of the world, Jon “Bones” Jones.
Chandler Jones only played seven games his junior year at Syracuse, as he battled injuries and recorded just 39 total tackles and 4.5 sacks.
Despite that, some NFL draft experts have moved Jones way up on their draft boards, with a few highly respected voices making the bold prediction that Jones will be the best defensive player in this draft three years from now.
“I’m gonna make a statement,” said NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock. “Three years from now, I’m gonna say Chandler Jones is the best defensive player to come out of this draft.”
On Mayock’s draft board, he ranked Jones as the number 9 overall prospect, and the top-ranked defensive end.
Michael Lombardi concurred with that assessment.
“I think what Mike Mayock said is right. He is the best defensive player in the draft.” Lombardi also suggested Jones could be a top-ten pick tonight.
It’s been quite a rise for a guy who not many people had even heard of a few weeks ago, but it’s a testament to his raw athleticism and his outstanding performance in the pre-draft evaluations.
Jones recorded a 35-inch vertical leap at the NFL Combine, as well as a 10-foot standing broad jump, both among the best of any defensive lineman.
“I stay humble through it all, but I feel like what raised my stock was the way I interviewed,” he said. “I met with 14 different teams, talked to the head coach, general managers, talked to coordinators and position coaches.”
“I felt like I carried myself very well. I came to every single interview like it was a job interview. I sat down with a coach, told him what I know, and all the coaches were impressed with how much I know, and were very intrigued with me. We watched film, and I explained what went on. They were impressed with my football knowledge.”
Originally pegged as a 3rd-round prospect when he decided to forgo his senior season and enter this year’s draft, Chandler Jones doesn’t know where he’ll get selected, but he’s not too concerned about it.
“Whenever I do get picked, it’s going to be shocking to me,” he said. “I just want to play football again and be an impact player, but as far as going in the 1st round, it would be a dream come true.”
The New York Jets are understandably enamored with his talents, and it wouldn’t be surprising to me to see Chandler Jones holding up a Jets jersey when it’s all said and done tonight.
His meteoric rise these last few weeks has reminded many of New York Giants Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul, another raw talent who was selected in the middle of the 1st round and paid off big time.
No doubt, any team that selects Jones would be thrilled to get a guy who can make an impact like Pierre-Paul has.
The more I think about it, the more I like it. Sign me up for Chandler Jones in Green and White.