The Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2012: Number 19

Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE

Our offseason countdown continues with the number 19 most memorable moment of the 2012 New England Patriots season.

It's been something of a busy week here at Pats Pulpit in terms of real, actual football news. I know that I was expecting at least another week or two of quiet before we had to get back on the ol' horse again, but here we find ourselves.

But just because things are a little hectic around here doesn't mean that I get to suddenly stray from my plan. So today I'm going to keep moving forward with my list of the 20 most memorable Patriots moments of 2012. Today we look at number nineteen.

#19. The Patriots move up in the draft, select Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower in the first round.

There is a lot to love about being a Patriots fan, not the least of which is the knowledge that New England is going to be in the playoff hunt each and every season. There are really only two major negatives that comes with rooting for a contender: it's either Super Bowl or bust every year, and you'll almost always have a bottom five pick in the following year's draft. To make matters worse, the Patriots have consistently employed a draft strategy that very closely resembles my lovemaking: boring and predictable with a couple of moves thrown in there that makes you wonder what the hell is going on, but when it's all said and done, it's hard to argue with the results. Most Patriots fans have since resigned ourselves to a Draft Weekend of trading back, acquiring value, and the stockpiling picks for future drafts that would allow the Patriots to pretty much control the board each and every year. It wasn't flashy, it wasn't exciting, but it was just the way it was, and we were fine with it.

Cut to this year. In a borderline unprecedented move, Bill Belichick actually traded UP in the draft to make his first selection. And if that wasn't crazy enough, he went and traded up AGAIN a mere four picks later. For the first time since 2004, the Patriots made two selections in the first round, and Patriots Nation finally got a brief taste of what it's like to be a Browns fan every April. The Patriots just drafted not one, but two stud rookies with a ton of talent and the potential to make an immediate impact come September.

Even more amazing was the fact that I had actually heard of both of the players New England had just drafted. As someone who follows college football only casually, I never have a solid read on the upcoming draft class and have no choice but to leave myself at the mercy of the "experts" regarding who would be the best fit for where. But Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower were both names I knew and guys I wanted to see the Patriots draft. Lo and behold, New England drafted both of them, and that looming cloud of dread that surrounded the notion of how the hell I was going to go another season justifying this Patriots defense suddenly got a little bit lighter.

While none of us would know how Jones and Hightower would pan out for a few more months, the 2012 Draft was one of the most exciting drafts I've ever watched from a Patriots standpoint. It really set the tone for what was a fun 2012 offseason and got me more pumped for rookie minicamp than I have ever been. It might be a while before the Patriots make that kind of draft day splash again, so odds are that the 2012 draft is going to go down as one of the most memorable in recent years.

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