Big East Week of our 49 in 49 pre-draft series wraps up with a profile of Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones.
To mixed martial arts fans, he’s known as Jon “Bones” Jones, light heavyweight champion of the UFC. To Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, he’s just the middle brother.
The Jones clan of upstate New York was certainly blessed with some athletic genes. Add in the oldest brother, Arthur, currently a defensive tackle with the Baltimore Ravens, and you have one of the most physically-gifted collection of brothers around.
"People say I've got competition, or I've got big shoes to fill because my brothers are both pro athletes and I'm not," Chandler told the Ithaca Journal at Syracuse pro day. "I turn it into a joke and say 'well, we all wear size 15.’”
While Jones has said he would love to play in Baltimore alongside his brother, there are still some elements of a healthy sibling rivalry.
“Once I do get drafted, as long as it's higher than the fifth round, I will rub it in his face a little bit," Jones said.
From all indications, the youngest brother will certainly have bragging rights when it comes to April’s NFL Draft. Slated by most publications as a likely second round pick, Jones is looking forward to the next level of competition.
At his current size of 6-foot-5, 266 pounds, Jones projects to be an outside linebacker in the NFL. He said he’s been specifically worked out as a 3-4 outside linebacker throughout the pre-draft process, meaning he could provide depth behind the trio of
There was plenty of interest at his March 8 pro day, as 31 teams had representatives watching Jones and 13 others. It was the most excitement around a Syracuse pro day since defensive end Dwight Freeney worked out in 2002.
“I’ve been waiting for this since I was a little kid and it’s finally happening,” Jones told YNN. “I have a dream about myself going to a different team every night. When I finally get to that team it’ll be a dream come true.”
Jones’ knee was a big focus of his physical examination at the Scouting Combine in February. He even left Indianapolis slightly amused, as a group of doctors gave his knee a thorough inspection.
"When I'm sitting there at the doctor's table going through all these medical exams, you have -- I kid you not -- 10 doctors looking at you on a table," Jones said. "They're pulling every single limb you have on your body, twisting it, jerking it, turning it, to see how durable you are. That was the most bizarre thing."
After injuring his left knee in the 2011 season opener, Jones missed five games. He still finished the year with 38 tackles, including 7.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks, in seven contests. Jones was also picked as an All-Big East first team selection.
In the time between the combine and his pro day, though, Jones dealt with a bout of stomach flu and said he lost 11 pounds. Still, he reportedly improved on his impressive combine numbers – including a fourth-place finish among defensive linemen in the vertical jump (35 inches) – though official figures weren’t released to the press.
“I think I did really good – a lot better than what I did at the combine,” Jones said. “A lot of people said I couldn’t do any better … but I felt good out there. I pushed a lot fluids and I felt fluid. I played a little outside linebacker today and hopefully I opened up some 3-4 teams’ eyes.”
As a 21-year-old with another year of college eligibility, Jones admitted he struggled with his decision whether to come back to the Orange. But after receiving a third-round draft grade from the NFL and consulting with his brother, a former Syracuse defensive tackle who went through a similar situation in 2010, Jones decided to take the plunge. Jones also said he has enough credits to earn his degree in May.
“When Art did his pro day, I was right in the stands watching every drill he did,” Jones said. “It was very similar. … He had an opportunity to leave to the NFL and I’m happy to follow in his footsteps.”
From a look at his twitter feed (@ChanJones99), it’s obvious the Jones brothers are still close. Jones can be seen hanging out with Jon or lining up in a 3-point stance, head-to-head with Art. While Jones said he thinks he’s the most athletic of the bunch, he knows when to give credit to a world-class prize fighter.
"To be honest with you, every team I met with asked me (who the best athlete of the three brothers is),” Jones said. “I would say that I would win, but Jon's the toughest."