Tyree Wilson couldn’t ask for better mentors than Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby. The Las Vegas Raiders’ No. 7 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft has two premiere pass rushers to learn from in the desert to hone and refine his game.
Wilson, a high-upside quarterback terrorizer from Texas Tech, challenges both the established NFL QB hunters in terms of athleticism and an ungodly wing span. Which makes both Jones and Crosby ideal mentors.
Yet, in terms of template, Jones is an ideal one for Wilson to mirror.
Jones, who stands 6-foot-5 and has slimmed down to the 250 range as the Raiders embark on organized team activities (OTAs), has an arm length of 35 ½ inches. Wilson, in comparison, stands at 6-foot-6 with an arm length of 35 ? inches and tips the scales at 271 pounds. Getting to see not only Jones go about the business of an edge rusher but also getting valuable tutelage and instant feedback is going to be a boon for Wilson, even though Jones didn’t live up to his own standards in 2022.
Now, before you lament Jones’ inadequacies in 2022, an admission must be made: The 11-year veteran was a flop of a signing. No doubt. A prized free agent addition last offseason, Jones was anything but treasured in his initial stint with the Raiders. Jones had too many stretches where he didn’t bring down the quarterback — something an edge rusher with 112 career sacks was expected to do — as he finished 2022 with 4.5 sacks, 3 of which came against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13. But due to both the way he was deployed by Raiders defensive boss Patrick Graham and his play, the $51 million return on investment was miniscule at best.
Can Chandler Jones regain his own form?
However, that doesn’t negate the fact that Jones can offer plenty to a rookie who is willing to sit under the learning tree. While Jones is working hard to recapture the feared pass rusher ways he exhibited before his stint in Sin City, and that is very much up in the air, what isn’t questionable is the veteran helping Wilson develop.
“Where I am now as a player, it’s my job to grab guys like Tyree and Adam Plant—another guy you might not have heard of—these guys are young, and they have such a high ceiling. They can go so far. I was just saying this the other day: I wish I had when I was a young player. I had Vince Wilfork, but he wasn’t much of a pass rusher. But I wish I had a Maxx Crosby or a Chandler Jones in my room as a rookie. It’s our job as a player to pass that down, and the things that we can share with these guys—we’re just excited for these players for sure.”
Granted, this all can’t start in earnest until Wilson heals from his collegiate foot injury, is 100%, and hits the practice field with his Raider teammates.
Planting the seeds: Chandler Jones will play an integral role in Tyree Wilson’s development
The aforementioned Adam Plant is a hometown product who grew up in Las Vegas and transferred back to UNLV after a 2019 stint with TCU. Angular at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, the Raiders added the Rebels pass rusher as an undrafted free agent.
At a position lacking quality depth, Plant will have his chance to impress the Raiders coaching staff. His final season at UNLV last season was his most productive, with 62 total tackles (33 solo), 13.5 stops for a loss, and eight sacks. For his collegiate career, Plant racked up 141 total tackles (73 solo), 28 stops for a loss, and 15 sacks.
“Work ethic,” Jones said when asked what caught his eye with Plant. “If I were an NFL scout, the first thing I would look at for a player is their consistency as far as their practice. Are they the same person every day? Do they have an up day or a down day? But work ethic, because that’s one thing you can’t coach, is telling guys to go harder. That’s something that’s just in you, or you don’t have it. So, those two guys, especially Adam, stand out for how hard he works.”
*Top Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images