After the Kansas City Chiefs traded out of the first round in the 2016 NFL Draft, fans were biting their nails as to the quality of player the organization might be able to pick toward the top end of the second round. Luckily for them, they found Defensive Lineman, Chris Jones, still on the board.
Most pre-draft experts had Jones listed as a late first rounder. To the Chiefs surprise, Jones was available and Kansas City took their top man on the board with their first pick on their 2016 draft class.
What the Chiefs are getting in Jones is a man with a spirited personality and a fire in his belly that exudes the fact; he loves to play the game of football. Sure all top draft picks love the game, but when you are as passionate and willing to work even harder to prove you belong in the NFL as Jones, that’s a mix that should turn some heads on the other 31 teams that felt he wasn’t a first round talent.
Still not convinced?
“I have a lot of work to improve on yet and a lot of details to clean and fix up,” Jones told reporters after Tuesdays workout.
Jones who did participate in the Chiefs mini-camps certainly understands what he did a couple of months wasn’t a precursor to the rigors of an actual NFL training camp. Still he’s accepted the challenge, and so far, appears ready to do whatever it takes to impress his coaches and his new teammates.
“We’ve got a great group of guys here. I thought they’d be very talented players coming into this -- which they are. I’m just trying to compete day-in and day-out. They’re NFL players so they’re here for a reason, but I’m also an NFL player and I’m here to compete,” he said.
Jones certainly fits the mold of the young defensive lineman that are the staple force of the starting unit - guys like Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard. How Jones fits into the mix either as a back-up or a starter, remains to be seen. At least, he’s acknowledging, the path from the collegiate game to the NFL isn’t an easy transition and will not include any shortcuts.
“There are a lot of new things going on. It’s also different -- a lot different from rookie training camp, but it’s going well. I’m starting to get a feel for everything, and it’s a lot faster than college football but that’s okay,” Jones stated.
There are certainly big time aspirations from with the Chiefs organization that Jones grows into a role as either a solid outside or inside defender. With Poe, heading to free agency at the end of this season, and Howard signed just through the 2017 season, the need for Jones to emerge as viable starting option is critical for the Chiefs long range plans on defense.
For now, Jones remains focused on the competition of camp and learning as much as possible before the games count in September. That means class is in full session and Jones must pay attention to the defensive veterans that have been through a few of these summer training camps.
“They keep us competitive. It keeps us on our heels. I know I’ve got three good guys in front of me with Jaye Howard, [Dontari] Poe, and Allen Bailey. They make me want to compete. As a competitor, I want to play at a higher level than they do. It keeps that competitive edge going throughout our whole group,” Jones said.
If he can do just that on the practice field and bring that knowledge and ability into the games during the regular season, the Chiefs might have found another young defensive lineman with the kind of upside that could make KC’s defense better than it was a year ago.