Patriots Draft Grades [Sports Desk]

Patriots Restock Defense

The 2012 NFL Draft has come and gone, and what you see now (minus some late signings) is pretty much what you'll be getting next season.

The Pats traded up not once but twice in the first round Thursday, acquiring Syracuse hybrid (DE/OLB) Chandler Jones with the #20 pick. Jones didn't do much in college, but his measurables (6'5", 265, agile) jump off the chart at you. He's not unlike another former Syracuse hybrid (FS/CB) Tebucky Jones(we're not sure if any relation exists), who turned out to be average at best. Coach Bill Belichick is thinking more along the lines of a Willie McGinest type threat.

The other move upward involved the Pats winning the race to Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower. The 6'2", 260 pounder bolsters the linebacker ranks to the point where some starter is now a backup. Hightower led a ferocious Tide defense, and can be used in many ways by the Pats.

We got a little tricky in the second round, ditching a late two for a three and a five... the latter of which we later ditched for a six and two sevens. Something like that, anyhow.

We used our remaining second rounder on unknown defensive back Tavon Wilson of Illinois. This pick inspired a lot of WTF chatter among analysts, but Belichick likes the kid. Maybe he's a saafety, maybe he's a cornerback.... time will tell.

With our later picks, we took Arkansas DE Jake Bequette, Ohio State safety Nate Ebner, Northwestern WR Jeremy Ebert (two thumbs up... again, not sure if there is any relation, the film dude is a Chicago guy and NFL heavy), and Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. Dennard is the most talented of the bunch, but fell way down in the draft due to his impressive police record.

Overall, we gave a great big shot of youth and potential into our linebacker corps. We rolled the dice on an anonymous safety, and picked up a TNT (talented n troubled) cornerback. We either filled the bench with the other guys, or they can't beat out last year's veterans. Again, time will tell.

If Jones becomes what we want him to be and starts racking up 1double-digit sack seasons, this draft will be a success. If he doesn't... and especially if Tavon Who doesn't work out... we may have sold our house in a cheap market. While Dennard has promise, I' rather have whoever was available at #61 over everyone up in that paragraph that starts off, "With our later picks..."

I'm giving this draft a C, with a B possible if Jones is the proverbial All That, and a longshot A- if we get a star out of the later rounds somehow. It gets a D if Hightower is the only guy from the draft class on the roster in 3 years.

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