For what seems like the first time in many years, the New England Patriots had an extremely deep draft class in 2012, and their contributions resonated all year. Starting off the "Rookie Review" at Patriots Life, I will begin with First Round, Pick #21, Chandler Jones.
Chandler Jones comes from a family of serious athletes. Of the three boys in his family, Chandler is the youngest, and I cannot imagine his two older brothers babied him... Mine sure did not baby me. Adding onto the already aggressive nature of older brothers, Chandler had a professional football player and a UFC Light Heavyweight Champion filling those roles. Arthur Jones, defensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, and Jon Jones, the current and youngest Light Heavyweight Champion in UFC History. I cannot even imagine getting into fights with them. Just to give the readers a mental picture, here is a description of one of Jon Jones's fights:
Jones fought Brandon Vera on March 21, 2010 at UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones. He won the fight by TKO (elbow) caused by an elbow to Vera's face followed up with punches in the first round. The elbow delivered to stop the fight also broke Vera's face in three places. Jones also won the "Knockout of the Night" award.
So there's that.
Chandler Jones left high school as a 2-Star Tight End recruit, according to Rivals.com. Consequently, he was only offered scholarships by Buffalo, Syracuse, and UConn. Jones chose Syracuse and was a 2-Time All Big East selection. Jones's final season at Syracuse was limited due to injuries; however, he was still a top prospect going into the NFL Draft.
Chandler Jones started every game he played for the New England Patriots (14 Games), and he recorded 45 combined tackles, six sacks, and three forced fumbles. These stats were good enough for the Bleacher Report to select him and Bruce Irvin as the two defensive ends for the All-Rookie Team 2012.
This incredibly successful draft class has provided the Patriots with a great base, but it is one that needs to improve and mature before Tom Brady's career is over. This draft class was highlighted by Chandler Jones, and as long as he can stay healthy, I believe he will become a premiere pass rusher in the NFL for our Patriots.
If you're wondering about whether or not Chandler Jones enjoys being a Patriot and sees himself as a long-term guy, he said this to Mike Reiss in December:
"I'm so glad I'm here with the New England Patriots. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me."