"Dogs". I love the nickname for linebackers, but then there are the guys who are a bit bigger and more violent than the typical linebacker; "wolves". These are the relentless guys that you send after the QB to make their life as miserable as possible.
Chandler Jones and Jake Bequette are excellent pickups. These guys are the double-dip of the year, and it'll pay off. If you count the very versatile LB Dont'a Hightower it could be a triple-dip draft at the DE position. These are guys who can get to the quarterback. These are wolves who can pin their ears back and go forward. But how will they fit in?
Chandler Jones and Jake Bequette will likely come into the 2012 season as situation pass-rushers from the edge and, on sub-packages, the interior. Remember how the Giants lined up JPP and Tuck at DT in subpackages? Belichick I think liked the idea and will use it. He tried it last year with Andre Carter as a situational-5tech before his quad injury. Add in Trevor Scott and suddenly we got great competition for Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham and Markell Carter. With seasoning Jones and Bequette will be great players down the road. Give Belichick raw athletes and he'll coach them up. In the meantime, tell them to pin their ears back and give chase.
Dont'a Hightower I see as being used like how the Giants used Mathias Kiwanuga. A big, fast, and strong linebacker who can line up in the trenches and wreak havoc. While the Pats are pretty deep at ILB already, Hightower is fast enough to take up the SOLB position that Ninkovich dominates. Remember in the SB when Ninkovich was lined up at LDE in a 43, and STer Tracy White at LOLB? Well, Tracy White has competition for that position now. It also gives Belichick more versatility in his defensive scheme. I could also see Ninkovich moving to the weakside(ROLB) on some plays while Hightower comes in at LOLB until Jones/Bequette are ready, unless Belichick wants to roll with Cunningham or Carter.
If I were going to compare the Pats 1st round to current Pats, it'd be Gronk and Hernandez. Jones has the potential to be a game-changing force of dominance like Gronk and Hightower has the versatility like Hernandez to be played all over the field
The Pats most intirguing pick was 48th overall, Tavon Wilson. He's coming in as a Free-Safety. Belichick will love his versatility, smarts, and commitment to the game. He'll need seasoning but has an underrated ceiling. He'll be learning behind Steven Gregory. These two may not be flashy names at all but they provide stability to the biggest hole on the Pats D. I believe either would be better than the guys we were trying to matchup with Chung last year, who were a group that couldn't have gotten much worse.(see; Sergio Brown, James Ihedigbo)
Nate Ebner. The more you learn about him, the more you'll love him and realize just how much Belichicj will fall head over shoes for him. He's a true project. He's a true athlete with a high character and smarts who Belichick will love turning into something. Look for him to start as a STer and perhaps be developed into much more, such as a DB or a KR/PR. He's got a high ceiling if gives the direction and coaching, which Belichick will be happy to provide the former Rugby standout. I'd expect him to be pushed towards the PS as he has a lot to learn but he might surprise everyone.
CB Alfonzo Dennard. I love the talent, just hate the man. I remember his fight with Alshon Jeffery, which I thought he started. Then he punched a cop. But in the 7th round? Hopefuly, assuming his legal problems clear up, he'll realize just how humbling that all is. He was a 1st-3rd rounder who we got in the 7th round. If he's a problem the investment is minimal, and therefore his string will be cut with little hesitation. He is a depth-addition that makes up for the loss of Antwaun Molden.
Then we got the WR, Ebert. I think Edelman's job isn't so secure anymore, and I don't think that's a bad thing at all.
All around, this could be a game-changing draft for the 2nd-worst defense in the league. Their ILB-depth is much better than the injury-plauged 2011 corps, their DE/OLB group looks stronger at the present and in the future, their CB group looks deeper, and they might finally have a pair of FSs that are actually decent at playing that position. I was expecting a 5-tech DT/DE, but apparently they feel good enough about the Jonathan Fanene signing along with Myron Pryor returnng from IR. Until their very last pick, Belichick went pure D- which tells you all you need to know about how he feels.
I would have liked a C/G and a young wideout, but we can't have everything.
Sign rookie contracts, get some more UDFAs to fill up camp, figure out which vet-RB to acquire, and then sign Wes Welker to a multi-year deal.