After the New England Patriots drafted DE Chandler Jones in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, 21st overall out of Syracuse, he was expected to step up and excel right away. He was to anchor a pass rush that had struggled mightily in the years prior to his arrival.
He started the 2012 season exceeding expectations, registering six sacks in his first eight games as a pro. Then, Jones was limited by nagging injuries the rest of the way, affecting his ability to get to the quarterback.
Fast forward to 2013, and Jones looks even more impressive than he did last year at this time. He is bigger this year, gaining 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason, while still maintaining the speed to rush the passer.
Although he has only one sack so far in the preseason, he has terrorized each offensive lineman that has been responsible for blocking him consistently.
This was especially evident Thursday night against the Detroit Lions. In the game, Jones consistently beat second-year tackle Reilly Reiff, putting constant pressure on QB Matthew Stafford as a result.
Even though he did not register a sack in the game, he helped contribute to a rough night for Stafford. The Lions’ QB went 12-for-25 for a completion percentage of 48 percent Thursday night.
With Jones having looked very impressive so far in the preseason, and with the Patriots facing several teams that possess mediocre offensive lines this season, Jones could have a breakout year in 2013, especially if he is able to avoid the injuries that plagued him a year ago.
Either way, he has already proven to be well worth the investment of a late first round pick. Assuming that the added muscle he put on in the offseason will help him accomplish this, expect big things from him in 2013.