DE Jones could benefit from Revis Island

August, 19, 2014
8/19/14
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ESPN.com's NFLRank project is in the process of being unveiled, and with players 81-90 in the spotlight on Tuesday, it's a chance to highlight New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones.

The Patriots' top draft choice from 2012 checks in at No. 85.

The arrow has been pointing up on Jones, who totaled six quarterback sacks as a rookie and followed up with 11.5 last season while playing a team-high 98 percent of the snaps. With cornerback Darrelle Revis joining the Patriots in a revamped secondary that has been clinging to receivers in training camp, one thought is that the player who could benefit most is Jones.

With a little extra time to get to the quarterback, could 15 or more sacks be in his future?

The personable Syracuse alumnus almost always deflects such a focus on personal statistics, but he has detailed how he tailored his offseason training to building more lower-body strength. The 6-foot-5 and long-armed Jones, who recently said that he's closer to 266 pounds than his listed 260, wanted to make his body more proportional to aid his pass-rushing and run-stopping skills.

"Without your legs, you're not anything," he said. "Stronger legs definitely generates more power and more speed."

That speed has actually shown up in a different area in training camp, as Jones has been dropping a bit more in coverage as part of outside linebacker responsibilities in the 3-4 alignment. On one play in joint practices last week against the Eagles, for example, Jones was chasing a running back down the left sideline.

"I really enjoy it. It shows a little versatility," Jones said of his coverage duties, while adding that playing 3-4 outside linebacker is similar to 4-3 defensive end, which has been his primary role in his first two NFL seasons.

But make no mistake, it's the pass rush where Jones' greatest value lies with the Patriots, and that isn't changing. Jones recently said that he feels he's grown in that area to the point that he now reacts to the way an offensive tackle blocks him and adjusts accordingly, instead of picking a move pre-snap and sticking with it.

We should get a chance to see a few more of those moves this season. As Jones moves up the NFL ranks, garnering more recognition, the trickle-down effect of Revis' arrival in New England could help him enter the ranks of the NFL's top pass-rushers.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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