They did that with Chandler Jones. The Pats traded up from pick #27 to pick #21 to grab their man.
The former Syracuse University defensive end lost part of his final season with the Orange due to injury but even playing only seven games, in 2011 Jones had 4.5 sacks and 38 tackles. Not too shabby, especially on a team that struggled all season.
Now, my perspective on Jones is different than some because I covered him for part of last season for a local publication in Syracuse. I got to know who Jones was within the locker room as well as one the field and it’s a big reason as to why I was so hoping the Patriots would draft him.
It’s not just that Jones is a good player; he is. He’s got the motor and the raw talent to make a difference for the Pats as a pass rusher. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said that three years from now, we’ll be talking about Jones as the best defensive player taken in this draft. I don’t think he’s wrong. Here’s why.
Jones is a prototypical Patriot player. He’s a little rough around the edges but takes direction well. Under a coach like Bill Belichick, Jones can and will blossom, because the skills he doesn’t have he’s about to learn from the best and most importantly, he’s open to changing his game however he has to.
In the SU locker room, Jones was a leader, taking young players, offensive or defensive ones, under his wing and keeping the atmosphere light. He’s quiet, but his presence is felt.
Do I think Jones will walk out and have a ten sack season next year? No. It will take a year or two to get him to the high level player he can be. But ten years from now, I predict he will not only still be a Patriot, but he will have spent the majority of his professional career being the anchor of a once failing defense.
That’s what Jones can do.