Friday, April 27, 2012

Patriots Shock Everyone By Doing Exactly What Fans Wanted

Yesterday I wrote a lengthy preemptive explanation of how the Patriots draft. I was expecting the fans of New England to be pissed today, as they usually are the day after the Patriots' activities in the first round.

Instead, the fans are happy. I'm happy. And I think that the Mayan end-of-the-world prophecy is happy too.

When Roger Goodell announced that the Patriots had made a move up in the draft, he might as well have been opening the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse.

The Pats sent their 27th overall pick, along with their 3rd round pick (93rd overall) to the Bengals for the 21st pick. And they selected DE Chandler Jones from Syracuse.

Jones is a big man (6' 5" and 265 pounds) that has a big frame he can grow into. He only played 7 games of his junior year due to a knee injury in the middle of the season. But he totaled 4.5 sacks, 38 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception. Which he returned for 32 yards.

He's an edge rusher. And if he lives up to his potential, the combination of him and Vince Wilfork could present opposing offensive lines with serious problems.

Minutes later, as the First Round zoomed by, the Patriots did it again. They made a deal with Denver, sending their 31st overall pick, along with their 4th rounder (126th overall) in exchange for the 25th pick.

With that, they drafted Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower.

Hightower is another large man. 6' 2" and 265. He can do just about everything that a linebacker could do. He can play in all defensive situations. That's something that Bill Belichick covets. And so does Nick Saban. Belichick loves drafting Saban coached players.

With Hightower's flexibility, he'll find a place in the Pats' LB corps. Which was already kind of good, if a little bit dull. Mayo is solid. Spikes showed some sparks last season.

The Pats like to mix up defensive formations, especially up front. Hightower's versatility enhances the Pats' ability to do that.

I'm not a huge fan of trading up. But the Patriots didn't give up much to move ahead. As Belichick noted in his post-draft press conference, they didn't give up any of their 2nd round picks to do so.

And I think these two particular players struck them as good fits. They didn't just get a pass rusher and a linebacker, they got two guys that they feel will excel in Foxborough.

So enjoy it, Pats fans. The Patriots did what you wanted.

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