Thursday, April 26, 2012
Patriots Trade Up Twice In 1st Round, Grab 2 Defensive Studs
Felger and Mazz had the right idea today as they literally threw highlighters at a draft board, that seems like as good a method as any to figure out what Bill Belichick and Co. will do in any given year.
With two picks in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, this appeared to be year that the Pats could finally take advantage of their spot rather than endlessly trading down as always. Still, nobody could have expected the haul they picked up. By making two trades up (their first two 1st round trade ups since 2003-Ty Warren), New England selected Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones at No. 21 and Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower at No. 25.
They dealt their first pick (No. 27) and a third-rounder to the Bengels to select Jones; for Hightower, they parted with the other first round pick (No. 31) and a fourth-rounder to the Broncos.
I can't tell you how exciting it was to see this team be aggressive, I think this validates the unspoken truth that Belichick and Tom Brady's championship window is rapidly closing. Rather than think about the future (next season like the Boston Globe's Greg Bedard wrote today), they went for the present. After all, this was a team that was a few plays away from another Super Bowl victory. Plus, most of that team will return next fall.
This addresses their two biggest needs: a guy that can rush the quarterback from the defensive end and another guy that can make plays all over the field while also pressuring the quarterback.
Ironically enough, even though it's way closer, I hardly ever paid attention to Syracuse football since they've been so bad the last few seasons. Therefore, I don't know much about Jones other than what I've read in the predraft hype. He's long and somewhat raw but he has plenty of potential. On the other hand, I watched a million of Hightower's games since Alabama has been the best team over the last three seasons (2 National Championships). He's a beast, similar to Brandon Spikes. That's why I love that move, he's a tough football player that is also a big-time winner.
At 6 feet 5, 266 pounds, Jones played in seven games last season for Syracuse as a junior, missing five games with a knee injury suffered in the season opener against Wake Forest. He recorded 4.5 sacks on the season, as well as 38 total tackles (7.5 for a loss) and two forced fumbles.
Jones played in 13 games as a sophomore in 2010, notching 57 tackles (9.5 for a loss), three forced fumbles, and four sacks. As a freshman in 2009, Jones had 52 tackles in 12 games, including 10 tackles for losses, in addition to 1.5 sacks.
A native of Endicott, N.Y., Jones was a first-team All-Big East selection last season.
Last season, Hightower was a defensive captain for the national champion Crimson Tide, a consensus first-team All-American selection by the Associated Press, a second-team All-SEC selection and a finalist for the Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik, Butkus Award and Lott Trophy.
He started 12 games at middle linebacker for Alabama in 2011, leading the team with 85 tackles (11 for losses), four sacks, eight quarterback hits, one interception and one forced fumble.
Hightower is a native of Lewisburg, Tenn., and played at Marshall County High School.
Both Chandler and Hightower were juniors last season.
After trading their third-round (93rd overall) and fourth-round (126th overall) picks in the pair of first-round deals, the Patriots have only their two second-round picks (No. 48 and 62 overall) remaining in this draft. I would expect them to execute more trades tomorrow (down) so that they can accumulate more picks. I'm fine with that after the incredible work they put together tonight.
Enjoy these highlights of the two newest Patriots: