The first in a series looking at the Patriots' 2012 NFL Draft picks, and the roles they might play for the Patriots next year.
Name: Chandler Jones
School: Syracuse University
Position: Defensive end / outside linebacker
Drafted: 1st round, 21st overall
Overview: At 6'5" and 266 lbs, Jones is a physical freak in the form of a Jason Pierre-Paul with long arms, an explosive first step, and an ability to get to the quarterback. Like Pierre-Paul during his time at USF, Jones' production never really matched his physical skills and potential while at Syracuse. By moving up in the first round to select Jones, the Patriots hope to get the most out of that potential.
Projected Role: As a rookie, Jones will have the opportunity to earn an immediate spot in the Patriots' pass rush rotation. Considering his height/weight, long arms, and athletic ability, Jones could be a natural fit as an "elephant" left outside linebacker in the team's 3-4 defense in the mold of Willie McGinest. However, while playing at Syracuse, Jones did rush off the right side a lot in 4-3 sets and in sub-packages. While I do think that Jones' transition to outside linebacker (assuming the Patriots run a lot of 3-4) will take some time, Jones should be ready to contribute to the Patriots' pass rush from day one. I think he'll be a fixture as a pass-rushing defensive end in sub-packages, and by the end of the year, should work his way into the base defense as well.
Projected Stats: 15 games played; 6 games started; 31 tackles; 6.5 sacks, 2 FF, 5 PD
Bottom Line: Rotational defensive lineman in sub-packages to begin the year, starter by the end of the year or heading into year two