I can still remember watching the 2012 NFL Draft in my dorm room, taking obnoxiously copious notes when I should have been studying for some test or another.
Bill Belichick's heart grew three sizes that day when he traded up to grab Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones and Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower. There's no question that these are two of the Patriots five most important defenders (I'd throw in linebacker Jamie Collins, cornerback Malcolm Butler, and safety Devin McCourty).
Jones currently has 10.5 sacks on the season, trailing only the Texans J.J. Watt, as he's developed his total game and become a truly great defender.
He was almost a member of the New York Jets.
In 2012, the Jets held the 16th pick of the NFL draft. The Patriots held the 27th overall, from trading their 2011 1st rounder to the Saints (Mark Ingram) for the New Orleans 2nd (Shane Vereen) and the 2012 1st, as well as the 31st overall.
This was considered a high quality draft for pass rushers, with names like Bruce Irvin, Shea McClellin, Whitney Mercilus, and Melvin Ingram considered first round options.
The Seattle Seahawks took Irvin off the board at 15th overall and the Jets were on the clock. General manager Mike Tannenbaum and right hand Terry Bradway had the following list: DE Chandler Jones, OG David DeCastro, DE Melvin Ingram, DE Courtney Upshaw.
According to NFL.com's Adam Schein, Jets head coach Rex Ryan thought "fix" North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples and the Jets followed the lead of their head coach.
Ryan miscast the obvious 4-3 defensive lineman in a 3-4 scheme and the player never fit- and there was never any real chance that Coples would ever fit.
The Jets selected Coples, while Ingram went to the Chargers at 18th overall where he is thriving in a 3-4 defense, DeCastro went to the Steelers at 24th overall where he has been a starter since his rookie year, Upshaw went to the Ravens at 35th overall where he has also been a key contributor in a 3-4 defense.
And then Chandler Jones went to the Patriots at 21st overall, after Belichick traded up to grab his guy.
Funny how that works out.
Rex Ryan will get to see Jones in action tonight. Jones registered three sacks in the week 2 meeting with the Bills.