Just when everyone expected the Patriots to move down in the first round, think again.
Bill Belichick took advantage of some sliding prospects and moved up twice to secure two building blocks for one of the league’s worst defenses.
The Patriots traded the 27th pick and their 2012 third-rounder to the Bengals for pick 21 and selected Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder was highly regarded by draft analysts for his length, strength and growth potential. In fact, NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock projected Jones to be the best defender from this year’s draft.
After the Steelers scooped up Stanford guard David DeCastro at 24, Belichick once again manuevered his way up the board, sending the 31st pick and their fourth rounder to Denver for the 25th selection. With that pick, the Patriots added a stud in Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower. The leader of the nation’s premier defense has the ability to line up as a 3-4 ILB, 3-4 OLB, 4-3 SLB or a pass rushing defensive end. His versatility, pedigree and size/speed package will be a terrific fit in New England.