Rookie Review: Justin Francis

Justin Francis was a stand-out pass rusher at Rutgers throughout his college career. He went undrafted but was picked up as a free agent by the Patriots for the 2012 season.

Francis proved to be a pleasant surprise, and played a vital role filling in when Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich went down with injuries. The 6'2", 270 pound defensive end saw his first action in the Patriots week 6 loss to the Seahawks, and appeared in every game for the remainder for the season, aside from Wekk 11 against the Colts.

During the regular season, Francis appeared in 10 games, with a total of 9 tackles and three sacks. All three of those sacks game in the Pats week 17 blowout of the Miami Dolphins.

Francis' lone start of the year (regular or postseason), game in the Patriot's AFC Championship loss, in a game where Chandler Jones played only two snaps due to an ankle injury. In the game, where the Patriots were not able to get to Flacco often, Francis recorded 5 tackles.

Evaluating his performance on the year, it appears the Patriot's picked up a quality D-Lineman as an undrafted free agent. Francis proved to be not only a serviceable back-up to our starting defensive ends, but a player with clear talent and playmaking ability. Hopefully, Chandler Jones, The Patriots true star defensive end, will be able to stay healthy, but if not, look for Francis to play a bigger role going forward.