Throughout the NFL, there are highly regarded defensive players in the trenches. Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Khalil Mack are usually the first names that come to mind. Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones should be in this short-shortlist, yet he doesn’t get much of the same respect beyond hardcore football fans. Even some Chiefs fans don’t give Jones this level of respect. It’s beyond time for that to change.
Jones is one of the most dangerous pass-rushers in the NFL. Since the 2018 regular season, Jones has racked up 132 pressures and 25 sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. He ranks third among interior defenders in pressures and second in sacks in that span. Sounds great, right? Well, those numbers are even more impressive than they look. Jones also plays dramatically fewer pass-rushing snaps than most of his competition.
That’s right, Jones is third in pressures and second in sacks among interior defenders since 2018, while barely reaching 1,400 total snaps and fewer than 1,000 pass-rushing snaps. Since 2018, Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald has played 420 more total snaps and 217 more pass-rushing snaps. Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox has played 211 more total snaps and 183 more pass-rushing snaps. Former San Francisco 49ers and new Indianapolis Colts DT DeForest Buckner has played 244 more total snaps and 121 more pass-rushing snaps. This gives these other great interior defenders a distinct advantage on Jones when it comes to traditional counting stats. And still, Jones performs at or beyond their standards. He's just that dominant.
To equal out this snap count disparity, let’s change it from a volume-focused stat to an efficiency-focused one, by using pressure rate and sack rate. In the last two seasons, Jones has a 14.0% pressure rate and a 2.7% sack rate. Buckner has a 10.2% pressure rate and a 2.0% sack rate. Cox has a 13.4% pressure rate and a 1.3% sack rate. Donald has a 16.0% pressure rate and a 3.0% sack rate. Donald is well on pace to be the greatest defensive tackle in football history, and Jones is closer to Donald than any other interior defender in football.
Let’s look at some more complex metrics from PFF, specifically Pass Rushing Productivity (PRP) and Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Jones had a 90.9 overall grade and 91.5 pass rushing grade in 2018 and an 86.3 overall grade and 90.0 pass rushing grade in 2019. Jones finished second in pass rushing grade both seasons, only behind Donald. In Pass Rushing Productivity, a metric designed to measure pressure on a per-snap basis with weighting towards sacks, Jones has finished second in both seasons (behind Donald) with PRP ratings of 9.2 in 2018 (Donald: 10.1) and 8.2 in 2019 (Donald: 8.7).
Wins Above Replacement, a concept previously popularized in baseball, is a metric that PFF has taken to show the value a football player brings compared to their peers. Jones is fourth in WAR among interior defenders since entering the league in 2016 and third since 2018. Since WAR is a volume metric and Jones has the previously-discussed snap disadvantage, one can safely assume that Jones would be second with an equal distribution of snaps.
There should be no more doubts about what Chris Jones can do. Jones is one of the most effective, valuable defensive linemen in the NFL and he terrorizes offensive lines on a consistent basis. That is part of why he is double-teamed on nearly 70% of pass-rushing snaps, the most among all defensive tackles according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Jones is a dominant force that offenses will have to deal with for years to come. The Chiefs should do everything in their power to make sure that’s in red and gold.
The referenced Pro Football Focus stats are a part of PFF Premium Stats, which comes with a PFF Elite subscription. Go to join.pff.com for more.