|Undefeated Mirage Gives Way to Reality of Flawed Patriots Team in OT Loss to Broncos||Gronkowski Avoids Major Injury||Connelly’s Top Ten: Harper Drop, Officials Desperate to be Liked, Run Out Clock||There’s Hope for a Hanley Trade|
After trading with the Bengals for the 21st pick, the Patriots selected Chandler Jones, Defensive End from Syracuse. Listed at 6’5 266 lbs, Jones is a tremendous athlete who will step in at starting defensive end for Mark Anderson, who left in free agency go to Buffalo.
Despite being injured five games last years and only recording 10 sacks in 3 seasons, Jones’ draft stock rising in the weeks leading up to the draft going from a projected mid round prospect, to being projected as high as number 12.
Jones, brother of MMA fighter Jon “Bones” Jones, is an expert at using his hands and can use his long arms to wreck havoc. He is a high motor player, who relies on hustle and rip and swim moves to get pressure rather than around-the-corner speed. Many have compared him to Giant’s defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
The Patriots traded their 3rd round pick (93rd overall) and the 27th pick for the 21st pick.
Making their second trade up on day one, with the 25th pick the Patriots selected Dont’a Hightower, linebacker from Alabama. The Patriots surrendered their 4th round pick (126th overall) and 31st pick for the pick. Hightower was expected to be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens at 29th which made the trade up a necessity.
In Hightower the Patriots get an athletic, versatile player who has all the intangibles a Bill Belichick player needs to have. He is smart, hard-working and well-respected on the field. At 6’2 265 lbs, Hightower has great speed for a player his size, recording a 4.68 40 at the combine. He can play inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, or outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. He is a powerful tackler who can rush the passer off the edge and plays with high intensity.
One knock on Hightower is his recognition skills are sometimes too slow and he can miss tackles at time. Also any time a player has an ACL injury, which Hightower did in 2009, it immediately makes health a cause for concern.