So all of a sudden the New England Patriots are the most Orange team in the NFL. After bringing in Tony Fiammetta, Will Allen and Steve Gregory as free agents this off season, the Patriots traded up from 27th to 21st in the first round to draft Chandler Jones.
Many Syracuse fans were nervous about the prospect of Chandler landing on their team as a first round pick. While we all know that Chandler has the ability to be a great player, he never had the dominating performance in college that screamed "first round NFL talent". However, having someone like Bill Belichick move up in the draft to take a player is about the best thing you can say for a guy. There are few better talent evaluators, especially when fitting players into his system, than Belicheck.
Chandler steps into a team who has lost some major pass rushing talent in Mark Anderson, who signed with the Buffalo Bills this offseason, as well as Andre Carter who is a free agent. Anderson and Carter tied for a team lead of 10 sacks last season.
New England also presents a situation where Chandler can pick up immediate playing time on a team vying for a championship right away. Whether you love or hate the Patriots, there were few better spots that Chandler could have landed than New England, and for them to trade up six spots, it speaks volumes of how the organization sees Chandler as a football player.
The picks of Jones, as well as Alabama lineback Dont'a Hightower, who the Patriots again traded up for to select at 25, have been almost universally praised. ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss gave the Pats an "A-" for both selections, and touts Jones' potential:
Some of those closest to Bill Belichick noted before the draft that the coach isn't the type to fall in love with one player, but the trade up for Jones (from 27 to 21, with a third-round pick as a sweetener) shows that's not necessarily the case. There is intriguing potential here, similar to the Giants' selection of Jason Pierre-Paul in 2010. Giants GM Jerry Reese felt confident taking Pierre-Paul because he was such a good athlete -- he's turned into a stud -- and Jones falls into a similar category. Jones has rare physical traits, which don't come around often.
The second and third rounds of the draft are tonight, but we are unlikely to see any more Orangemen, like Phillip Thomas, Nick Provo and Andrew Tiller, go until Saturday during the 4th-7th rounds.