Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones is turning out to be one of the most intriguing players in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft. Is Jones a player who should be selected in the mid-to-late first round, as has been increasingly suggested of late? Is he a third-round talent without the pass-rush skills to be an elite NFL player?
The answers vary depending upon whom you ask. More and more, though, Jones is a player who looks like he could come off the board somewhere within the draft's first 50 selections.
Jones has drawn interest from the New York Giants, who pick 32nd after winning the 2012 Super Bowl. The Giants attended the SU Pro Day to get a closer look at Jones. He has also drawn interest from the New York Jets, who have had Jones in for a private workout. ESPN's Scouts Inc. ranks Jones as its 22nd overall 2012 NFL Draft prospect, and ESPN's Todd McShay has even offered a scenario in which the Jets, drafting 16th, take Jones as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Jesse Bartolis of NFL Mocks had this to say about the 6-foot-5, 266-pound Jones:
"Chandler Jones plays a premium position for the NFL and will likely be drafted earlier than he should be. I'm a fan of Chandler Jones, but not as big a fan as some people. To me he's a mid- to late- second-round player who needs a lot of refinement. Jason Pierre Paul entered the NFL Draft with some people questioning his motor and drive, but as it turns out those opinions were unfounded. Jones will have to play with the same high energy JPP does to be worth a first-round pick.
"I also think he's best suited to play DE in the NFL and would be miscasted as a 34 OLB, though he does have the athletic ability to play there, his biggest asset are his extremely long arms and functional strength. I'd consider him adding 15 points and playing 34 DE before I would have him play 34 OLB, but that doesn't mean he won't be drafted as a 34 OLB."
Bartolis pointed out that Jones' NFL Scouting Combine numbers are comparable to those posted by Pierre-Paul, the ultra-athletic defensive end who registered 16.5 sacks in 2011 and was named All-Pro.
4.71 40-yard dash, 19 bench press reps, 30.5-inch vertical, 115-inch broad jump, 7.18 three-cone drill, 4.67 20-yard shuttle
4.87 40-yard dash, 22 bench press reps, 35-inch vertical, 120-inch broad jump, 7.07 three-cone drill, 4.38 20-yard shuttle
CBS Sports draft analysts Rob Rang sees Jones a late-first-round selection, which might put him in play for the Giants. "Prototypical build, physicality, relentless," says Rang in a brief summation of Jones' skills. [Full CBS Sports Scouting Report On Jones]
In its most recent draft simulation, Draft Tek has Jones going to the Chicago Bears in the second round, 50th overall. NFL.com continues to list Jones as a third-round value.
Here is some of what ESPN says in its scouting report on Jones:
"Bottom line though, he has the size, athleticism and tools to develop into one of the premier pass-rushers in this years' class when it all said and done."
Jones' production, just 10 sacks in three seasons at Syracuse, does not match the hype. It will be interesting to see how high the potential scouts see pushes him up in the draft later this month, or if the lack of collegiate production gives teams pause.