NEPD Mailbag: Chandler Jones Edition

Chandler Jones NFL Draft

Where will Chandler Jones fit in early with the Patriots?

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

I shot out a tweet today asking for any questions because today is normally my mailbag day. Since the offseason can be a little slow, I’ll be dedicating this column for the next few weeks to one great question.

I was outspoken before the draft on Chandler Jones, and I haven’t yet given my full synopsis of where I think he fits in New England.

One of my followers, @extrapointIan tweeted me: “@DougKyedNEPD where do you see Chandler Jones playing next year? Where do you see him ending up?” My answer after the jump.

When the Patriots traded up to draft former Syracuse DE Chandler Jones, I was neither surprised nor overly excited.

There were reports all around that the Pats had interest, and when he started falling into the 20s, it was apparent when New England traded up, that Jones would be the pick.

From what I saw on tape, I don’t think that he’s a perfect fit for the defense. Yet.

Despite glowing combine workout numbers, his change of direction not only didn’t flash on tape, it looked like a weakness. He was rarely asked to stand up, either in pass coverage or in rushing the passer, and when he was playing in space, he played with his pad level far too high and looked awkward at times running.

But Jones was also struggling with a knee injury all last season, which obviously could have affected his mobility. His stellar workout numbers, especially in the 3 cone tell me that the knee injury could have been affecting him more than we could have thought.

With the concerns I have regarding Jones, I don’t see him starting early in his NFL career. If the Patriots played a straight 4-3, rather than a hybrid 3-4/4-3, he could likely start at DE, but the Patriots have an interesting alignment.

The essentially play a 3-man front with two 5-techs and a 1-tech, last year it was Love/Wilfork at 1-tech, and Wilfork, Shaun Ellis and Brandon Deaderick at 5-tech. Then they have a 7-tech/OLB next to Wilfork on the weak side. Last year that position was played by Andre Carter/Mark Anderson once Carter went down/in sub packages.

With Carter unsigned and injured and Anderson gone to Buffalo, I expect the Patriots to employ a rotation at that “elephant” position this season. Jones could eventually fill that role, but he’s not experienced enough yet in dropping back into coverage or rushing standing up. His strengths are his length, his natural strength, his run defense and his interior rush. I think that Jones will likely play in four man front sub packages on the strong side and in the base defense when that 7-tech/elephant will have his hand on the ground.

Jones could either morph into a great elephant, but if the Patriots don’t see that upside, he could also pack weight onto his frame and become a dominant 5-tech filling that Shaun Ellis/Brandon Deaderick role from last season. Jones weighed in at 266 at the combine this season and has a frame that looks like it could easily add weight. Ellis played that 5-tech/7-tech position at just 290 last season, so Jones really needs to add just 25 pounds to have a legitimate shot at playing strong side DE/5-tech.

Obviously it’s not reasonable to expect Jones to add that much weight in one off-season, and I’m not saying that’s definitely going to be his career path, but like many players that the Patriots bring in, Jones has versatility and if he’s not showing enough growth as an elephant this season, he could transition into a stellar interior rusher.

Jones wasn’t my favorite player the Patriots brought in during the draft, but he could very well wind up being the best player the Pats drafted. Overall, they really improved their defense bringing in Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Alfonzo Dennard, Tavon Wilson and Jake Bequette.

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13 Responses to “NEPD Mailbag: Chandler Jones Edition”

  1. big w says:

    outside of Hightower, all of these guys are stretches Ebner truely doesn’t have a spot on this team, Dennard might end up in jail, Ebert looks like a wes welker clone so he might get a chance. Bequette is a 270 lb lineman where does he fit, and the only tape of Tavon I seen was Ebert blowing by him for a easy over the top.

    • bosoxfanpeds says:

      I think all these guys are going to play…Hightower, Jones, Bequette are all going to see time and play regularly….Nickel and Dime packages are going to see Wilson and Dennard….Ebner will be on special teams making plays…And Ebert will be on the practice squad….If they start it’s a bonus…

      • big w says:

        You overlook there is no room on special teams with backup linebackers, corners, lineman or are we cutting white, fletcher , and all other actual backups. plus dennards assaulting a police officer.

  2. McTash says:

    Funny that this whole draft basically is a wait and see other than Hightower, yet most draft pundits thought quite highly of it.

    Add Wilson, Bequette, Dennard and especially Ebner and Ebert, to Jones.

    Let’s hope the wait, short or a year or two, is worth it for ALL!

  3. Bill says:

    Didn’t BB recently say that the new NFL linemen in the 275# pound range were the future with their versatility in space. That doesn’t sound like he wants Jones to put on weight. with almost all teams passing 60% plus of the time , pushing the LOS back is more important than controlling it.

    • MJP says:

      Well, Jones can certainly push the pocket, I just think people who see Jones as a pure edge-rusher are going to be disappointed, which is why I was disappointed we passed on Nick Perry who went to Green Bay….you could argue that Green Bay stole our draft in that regard, or we handed it to them….again.

      • munchkin says:

        The difference is this time the Pats traded up to get their guy, not down and out.
        It’s possible that BB saw Perry as too one dimensional. Yeah we don’t like to hear that DEs need to be able to play the run in BB defense but that remains true and likely won’t change.
        I believe that the injuries to Wright and Pryor hurt the team’s D-line rotation more so than the failure of Haynesworth to pull his head out of his behind.
        Jones’s physicality could bring mismatches along the D-line similar to what Seymour offered in the past freeing up the LBs.

  4. MJP says:

    I couldn’t agree more, unless Jones was severely limited by the knee injury and his “true” athleticism is much better than what we’ve seen on tape from last year then he’s going to struggle against LT’s as a edge rusher….I just didn’t see anything but length and strength from Jones, no dynamic athleticism as a pass-rusher.

    I don’t think it will take long before the Pats decide to transition Jones to a more traditional down-lineman, sort of that 5-technique hybrid that can play DT and some 4-3 DE…..I believe they will want to limit his time in space and make the game all about dominating his gaps and pushing the pocket as a bull-rusher where he can use his length to disrupt passing lanes.

    • jimmy says:

      i saw a ton of athleticism. His sack count was not great because: A) He was injured, and B) He was often double-teamed, and sometimes even triple-teamed.

  5. TD says:

    It’s easy to see why Pat’s liked him-he has super long arms and stands out physically next to all the other rooks.

    He’s probably going to look like a midget next to our OT’s, Solder & Sea Bass.

    I wouldn’t be so sure about him just adding 20-25 pounds and still being effective. I’ve heard Tim Ryan on Sirius say his coaches in Chicago had him gain 25 pounds and he lost his quickness and quickly went back to his original weight.

  6. Stephen S says:

    Who will be competing for that elephant position this year

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