For lack of a better thing to say, Chandler Jones is HOT right now. He can single handedly help revitalize Syracuse football while being anywhere from the best DE in the draft to a solid first round selection to a world class franchise. Now as SB Nation has already written, Jones has one of the most intriguing rises to prominence draft experts have seen in years.
As someone who likes to consider himself knowledgeable in matters pertaining to the National Football League, I have spent the last day or so wondering: how the heck did I guy I initially saw as a 2nd to 3rd round pick catapult to a sure first round selection?
What I (and I am assuming many others saw) was a talented player who suffered his first major injury this past season and proceeded to have his best game in a game where everyone in a block S had a freakishly good game. We also saw a player who played decent in the final games, but nothing spectacular.
What I didn't take into account is that the NFL draft is a monster like no other. It is an ESPN'ified event where everything about a player factors into a prospect's profile and more stock is put into one day in Indianapolis than we'd expect. It's about comparisons and projections, which is why when Chandler Jones is called and inks his huge contract, he should make a call to Buffalo and thank Mario Williams.
Jones physically is 6'5 266 lbs and played as a 4-3 end who was a great pass rusher. Mario Williams is 6'5 283 lbs and played the first part of his career in that same role, dominating his position. What made Williams so attractive this offseason was that Williams changed into an outside linebacker for a 3-4 system and still put up huge numbers and some would argue was more effective.
Buffalo snatched up Williams in free agency for a whopping 6 years and $50 million guaranteed because of the versatility he brings to a defense.
Now I am not saying that Jones is a Williams but what is every scout saying about Jones? Oh yeah, his athletic ability and potential.Listen, we at Syracuse all knew about the Jones' athletic gene that runs in the family. For an Orange fan, it's a great story. For an NFL scout, it reaffirms their plan that Chandler is athletic enough to be an edge rusher from either line or backfield, depending on how they chose to mold him.
His decent combine and pro day only further this idea that Jones is a Mario Williams in waiting and teams like the Jets and Pats both have excellent defensive coaches that are willing and able to coach and mold a player. If Williams had not shown this past offseason that an athletic end can become a linebacker, I honestly think Jones is still sitting in the second round waiting for a call.
Now, he could even join Williams in Buffalo is Mike Mayock has his way. Now that would be worth watching Buffalo football for.
[Note by Apregs, 04/26/12 12:52 PM EDT ] UPDATE: If you have ESPN insider, Mel Kiper's final Mock (5.0) has Jones going 12 overall to the Seahawks. Guess Sean will get to see him in person for a while.