NFL.com is now in the midst of releasing its list of the league’s top 100 players for 2022. This is a ranking of the league’s best players as voted on by their peers, which is released 10 players at a time during the preseason.
On Sunday, the first Kansas City Chiefs player appeared: defensive tackle Chris Jones.
39. Chris Jones · Kansas City Chiefs · DE
Jones earned his third straight Pro Bowl nod and led the Chiefs in QB hits (17) and sacks (9.0) in 2021, with the latter double any of his teammates. He also recorded 34 QB pressures and 16 QB hurries last season. Jones has been a solid veteran presence for a Chiefs defense that is still relatively young, and as Kansas City tries to continue its recent run of postseason success, Jones’ ability to pressure quarterbacks in the pocket will continue to be essential.
By the time Jones’s position in the Top 100 was announced last year, another Kansas City player had already been named to the list: safety Tyrann Mathieu. (Mathieu — now with the New Orleans Saints — is on the list again for 2022, but has dropped from 58th to 70th). Jones — ranked 34th in 2021 — ended up being ranked behind wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who came in at 15th. On Monday, the site released the players ranked from 30th to 21st. Hill (now with the Miami Dolphins) wasn’t there, so he will again be in the top 20 for 2022.
In a nutshell, that’s the narrative for Kansas City during this offseason: the team’s best players are going away — and the ones who remain are falling off.
But there’s something to be learned from NFL.com mistakenly listing Jones as a defensive end. A year ago, here’s part of what we said about Jones being ranked 34th:
Jones moved up a whopping 18 spots from his 2020 ranking, which sort of makes up for how poorly he was ranked a year ago — but not quite. What should be more interesting to see is how he is ranked a year from now. If defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s idea to move Jones from the inside to the outside based on opponent and game situation works as planned, Jones could become uber-disruptive in the coming season.
Yeah... that didn’t work out quite as we expected during the preseason.
By Week 10, the Jones-as-a-defensive-end experiment was a thing of the past — and Jones (along with the rest of the defense) played much more effectively. To be clear: Jones — just as he did before 2021 — will still play some snaps on the edge. But in 2022, he will be back to playing primarily on the inside. Just as Melvin Ingram’s midseason addition made that possible in 2021, Carlos Dunlap’s signing — which happened before the season — will make that possible in the coming season.
You can’t really blame NFL players for thinking less of Jones than they did a year ago. But with Dunlap, first-round rookie George Karlafitis — and maybe even a slimmed-down and rejuvenated Frank Clark — beside him, Jones should be back on track in 2022.
What do you think of Jones’ ranking?
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