New England Patriots Links 5/10/12 - Patriots Rookies Under Pressure to Perform

Patriots first round draft pick LB Dont'a Hightower #30 demonstrates his definition of pressure on Kent State QB Spencer Keith #3.

John Czarnecki puts the Patriots on his list of NFL players and teams under pressure in 2012.

Other than the Bengals, no team received higher draft grades than the Patriots after what Bill Belichick did to shore up the pass rush. The Patriots took the player they coveted in Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones and then traded ahead of the Baltimore Ravens for Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower. The Patriots needed defense and Belichick spent the first four picks on just that. All the new arrivals should get on the field this season. New England had only 40 sacks in 2011, and 10 of them were by Mark Anderson, who signed with the Bills. Andre Carter, who also had 10, remains unsigned. The rookies better perform.

Christopher Price reports Syracuse coach Tim Daoust, who worked with Chandler Jones, believes his "best football is ahead of him."

“He’s a perimeter player, a guy that lines up on the end of the line, whether you want to call him a linebacker or defensive end, but he’s an end-of-the-line player,’’ Patriots coach Bill Belichick told Sirius XM Radio shortly after the pick was made. “He’s got great length — height, arm length — [and] very athletic. He came out early, missed part of the season last year with an injury, but the opportunity he’s had to play he’s been very productive against a lot of good players in his conference, so we thought that he’d be able to work against NFL-type tackles.

“We played both odd and even front last year, I think we’ll continue to be multiple that way, but he’s more of an end-of-the-line player.”

“I know that the Patriots have a track record of taking versatile players who are also high-IQ guys, and Chandler fits that mold. He’s an extremely coachable kid who is also very intelligent,” Daoust said. “He’s able to take coaching very quickly when he gets out there on the football field. “

Another thing with Chandler is that a lot of people see the pass-rushing ability, and that’s very important. But at 6-foot-5 with those arms, he’s a long kid when it comes to coverage. I’m not saying he’s ready to drop into coverage now, but he’s a tough target to throw around, and eventually, in a 3-4 scheme, if he’s playing end, I think he can drop into coverage.”

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