All you can say is WOW!!
The Patriots have been nothing short of agressive in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. In what can only be characterized as moves that are un-Belichick the Patriots have moved up not once, but twice to address their most glaring weakness- defense!
The Patriots started the trading madness by moving the 27th pick and their 3rd round pick (93) to the Bengals for the 21st pick. This opened the door for drafting Syracuse DE, Chandler Jones, who became the first DE since Vince Wilfork to be drafted in the first round by Belichick. Oddly, enough Vince was also drafted with the 21st pick back in 2004.
Jones projects to be a freak athlete and become one of the top edge rushers for the Patriots defense on day one of training camp. He has the size at 6-5 and 266lbs, and the length with arms measuring in close to 35.5 inches. As stated by Mel Kipper Jr during the ESPN broadcast, Jones only fell because of injuries in the past. He has bounced back from them, but did show a weakness in picking up sacks.
It was only around ten minutes before the initial excitement settled in from the Chandler Jones selection, and word leaks out that the Patriots had traded the 31st pick and their 4th (193) round pick to the Broncos for the 25th pick. In many ways this was like finding another present under the tree on Christmas morning, but only after having it already happen to you.
This trade allowed the Pats to select Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower. This selection comes as more of a surprise because of Hightower still being on the board that late into the first round. Hightower, like Jones, projects to enhance the Patriots ability to place pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This pick has the potential to pay huge dividends for the the Pats as Hightower can join Jerrod Mayo, Brandon Spikes and Rob Ninkovich in the linebacker core group. One thing to not count out is the Nick Saban and Bill Belichick connection in the process of making this selection. Saban grooms smart players and Hightower is no exception, which only makes his more desirable by Belichick and company.
The Patriots not only met the expectations of their fan base by addressing the holes in the defense, but they did so by not having to give up any of their second round picks. The front office continues to show that they get it better than any other franchise in the NFL. There is still more work to be done Friday night, but after tonight's aggressiveness Patriots fans can rest easy and dream of Jones and Hightower getting to quarterbacks.
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