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Syracuse football: LB Mikel Jones signs with Los Angeles Chargers as undrafted free agent

Jones will attempt to make the Bolts’ roster this summer

Wagner v Syracuse Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

The captain of the 2022 Syracuse Orange defense is NFL bound. After returning for one more year in the 315, Mikel Jones didn’t get drafted, but has signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Chargers.

In his four-year Syracuse career, Jones tallied 298 tackles, 8.5 sacks, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries. He led the team in tackles in both 2020 and 2021, but came in second behind Marlowe Wax in 2022. It was still a very successful senior season for ‘Kel, who helped elevate his unit to a Top-15 national ranking in pass defense.

The 3-time All-ACC linebacker takes his talents to first-year DC Derrick Ansley’s system, where he will look to stand out in what’s currently a crowded room.

Here’s what they can expect:


Jones’s biggest attribute is his leadership. His presence on the field makes others much more aware of their assignments and any audibles. Best served covering slants and crossing routes over the middle of the field or spying on more mobile quarterbacks.


He doesn’t have the extreme strength needed to consistently plow over the line on straight blitzes, performing better with a strong supporting cast up front. Is streaky in the turnover game.

How did we do with our TNIAAM Draft Prediction?:

0-for-3 here, as Kevin, Dom & I all had the same thoughts.

Kevin: Here’s where I get Andy his next Steelers jersey. Mikel seems like the versatile player that Mike Tomlin wants on defense. Is he a linebacker or safety in the NFL? Yes, he is and Pittsburgh is the team that will figure out how to use his skills after taking him in the 7th round at Pick 234.

Mike: Make that two jerseys, because I totally agree here. The Steelers had the league’s most expensive defense in 2022, yet their interior struggled mightily against the run - they responded by cutting ties with Devin Bush, Myles Jack, and Rob Spillane. Mikel has the senses to adapt on the fly and quickly get the rest of the unit to follow suit. Tomlin and the rest of the ‘Burgh welcome him at Pick 234.

Dom: Is there a better pick than Pittsburgh here? No, not really. I’ll give sneaky honorable mention picks to Baltimore and San Francisco. Put him with a legitimate coach and a good scheme, and he could produce.

We wish ‘Kel the best of luck in pursuing his pro career and hope he enjoys the west coast weather while he’s there.