Why Chandler Jones Is an Early Favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year

Jason Cappell@@jasoncappellContributor IIIOctober 19, 2012

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30: Chandler Jones #95 of the New England Patriots celebrates their impending victory during an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 30, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Chandler Jones has great athletic bloodlines.

His brother Jon "Bones" is arguably the greatest pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world. His oldest brother Arthur is a key cog on the Baltimore Ravens defensive line.

Scouts pegged Chandler as a raw pass-rushing prospect coming out of college, but Chandler proved to be the complete opposite.

Chandler looks extremely poised and polished along New England's front seven and has slowly become a matchup nightmare for opposing offenses. Last week, Jones abused former first-round pick Russell Okung on his way to a two-sack performance.

Jones leads all rookies with five sacks, and is on pace for a 13-sack season.

Along with his impressive sack totals, the defensive end has three forced fumbles.

The rookie has already added Defensive Rookie of the Month to his growing resume. In September, the former Syracuse Orangeman led all rookies with three sacks, adding 19 tackles and two forced fumbles for the Patriots.

Fans have quickly forgotten the losses of Mark Anderson (BUF) and Andre Carter (FA), both of which had 10-plus sacks last season.

Jones is the perfect fit in Bill Belichick's versatile defense.

He plays the “elephant” position, which is similar to the role that Willie McGinest played in the early 2000s.

Chandler possesses the rare athletic ability to play in either the two or three-point stance. He can bull-rush offensive tackles or finesse his way past them with agility and speed. Ever since Jones’ arrival in Foxborough, New England has jumped to the 20th-ranked defense in yards allowed.

Which is far better than the 31st-ranked defense last season.

In preseason action, the Saints' Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod raved of Jones' talent:

He looks like a Pierre-Paul type, the way he comes off the ball, He has long arms, he's a tall guy and he has good speed. If you let him get into your chest, he has power enough to bull you, and I really can't comment on him too much because I'm not here grinding with him every day, but just today's battle and seeing him out here, I think he's going to have a promising future.

Jones is not only pushing himself into the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation, but also into the discussion of being a top 4-3 end.

New England once again has found a first-round gem; this looks every bit to be a draft-day steal.