Yesterday, we highlighted Patriots rookie defensive end Chandler Jones in a piece from Bill Williamson that projected the top 15 pass rushers of 2015. Today, we look at Jones' rookie pass rushing counterpart Jake Bequette, who was selected as a rookie "who could surprise" by Pro Football Weekly's Eric Edholm:
Scouts either loved him or hated him. The Patriots took two front-seven players, first-rounders DE Chandler Jones and LB Dont'a Hightower, ahead of Bequette. And it's not as if the team has produced a bevy of instant contributors on that side of the ball in recent years. So what gives? Bequette is confident, some say borderline cocky, and that will help him surge in what appears to be a part-time role awaiting him as a rookie. The Patriots worked almost exclusively in their sub defenses in the recent minicamp, and Bequette stood out as a rusher in drills. He could be an 8-10-sack player and send someone like 2010 second-round DE Jermaine Cunningham packing for a roster spot.
I'll actually be focusing on Bequette in my rookie projections series later, but I thought this was a great example of the positive momentum that Bequette has established through his first two months with the team. While he doesn't have the tremendous length that Chandler Jones has, he still has great height and a quick first step, which could allow him to see snaps as a rookie in sub-packages. And lets not forget, Bequette was the SEC's leader in sacks in 2011 - that's no easy feat considering the SEC is college football's toughest conference. While I don't think he'll be picking up 8-10 sacks as a rookie, I do think he can make an impact, and hopefully become a full-time player some time down the road.