April is always the month in which pass rushers move up and down the draft board due to work ethic concerns, pro day workouts and final tape evaluation.
UNC’s Quinton Coples and South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram have fallen on their face this month, so it’s quite feasible to think that Chandler Jones will be the first defensive end off the board.
After floating around throughout the draft process with a second-round grade, Jones’ combination of solid tape, workout and interviews has helped him shoot up boards.
Certainly, teams like the Seahawks, Jets and Chargers have taken notice with this player and will all give Jones a look when they pick in the middle of the first round.
Quinton Coples isn’t a max-effort guy and can’t be an effective player unless he has an even better pass rusher on his other side. He’d be a great fit with the Bears and former UNC standout Julius Peppers.
As for Ingram, the South Carolina defender is only 6-foot-1 and doesn’t look like he’d be a great fit as a 4-3 defensive end. I also wonder whether or not he has the lateral quickness to stand up as a 3-4 rush linebacker.
Many of the concerns that people have about Courtney Upshaw are similar to the ones I have with Ingram. I doubt either one is able to play a ‘traditional’ position in the NFL.
Last season, despite the popularity of players like Ryan Kerrigan and Adrian Clayborn, it was Missouri’s Aldon Smith who was the first defensive end off of the draft board.
Jones could be this year’s Smith, a late-riser capable of rushing the passer and making a difference on the edge. This Syracuse defender puts 251 solid pounds on a big 6-foot-5 frame. He’ll be able to shuck defenders at the next level.
I see Jones as a solid pass-rusher who can come in on third-down packages. I project him to the Jets with the sixteenth pick.
Look for this defensive end to come into the NFL with a lot of raw talent and have a very high ceiling. A coach like Rex Ryan could take advantage of this player’s ability to get around offensive tackles and make plays in the backfield.