It seems like NFL Draft experts always laud the rookie class of the New England Patriots, and their 2012 class is no different. The Patriots simply have their own way of targeting players and they stick to it. Bill Belichick and company picks the guys on their board and they seem to fit into their system. Versatility is usually a must for them and they actually traded up for a change to ensure they got their guy with their 1st round pick.
Rumors were circulating that the Pats had two players in mind for their 1st of two 1st round picks and when the Chicago Bears took Shea McClellin at 19 the Patriots had to move up to get Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones who will play outside linebacker for them. They also moved up a few spots with their other 1st round pick to nab Alabama inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower. Jones will provide the edge rush they need and Hightower is a player that brings a ton of versatility to the field. Both Jones and Hightower will push for a starting position sooner than later.
They also picked up another potential rookie starter all the way down in the 7th round, when they picked up troubled Nebraska corner Alfonzo Dennard. If it wasn’t for some jackass like behavior both on and off the field Dennard could have been a 1st round pick. The Patriots are the perfect team for him, as the veteran coaching staff and roster will quickly get him focused.
They added two more defensive backs with 2nd rounder Tavon Wilson from Illinois who could be considered a reach, but he’s a versatile player (there’s that word again), and 6th round pick Nate Ebner. Both will provide immediate special teams depth.
Their defense heavy draft also added to the defensive line with Jake Bequette from Arkansas. Bequette has good all around skills to play 3-4 DE as well as the intangibles that N.E. likes, and he could crack the d-line rotation as a rookie.
The lone offensive player they picked was wide receiver Jeremy Ebert from Northwestern. He’ll have to fight to make the roster, but the measurables he put up at his pro day (4.38 40 and 16 bench press reps, to go along with smooth route running) had some scouts thinking sleeper pick.
Lester will be running down a few teams he believes came out winners in the 2012 NFL Draft. He’s already looked at the solid drafts of the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens. Stay tuned next week to see which team he spotlights next. He can also be found covering the Chicago Bears at Windy City Gridiron.