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How smart were Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio to trade up twice in the first round?

04.27.12 at 10:22 am ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots under Bill Belichick had traded up in the first round just twice since he came to Foxboro in 2000.

On Thursday night, they matched that total in a span of 15 minutes.

At 10 p.m., the Patriots struck a deal with the Bengals to trade them their 27th overall pick and their third-rounder to move up to 21st so they could take Chandler Jones, the 6-foot-5 defensive end from Syracuse that had rocketed up the draft boards in the last three days.

Once the Bears nabbed defensive end Shea McClellin out of Boise State at No. 19, the Patriots knew they had to make their move. So, with Tennessee on the clock, they consummated the deal with Cincinnati as the Titans were selecting wide receiver Kendall Wright.

It marked the first time since 2003 the Patriots moved up, when they made a move for Ty Warren.

But alas, Belichick and personnel chief Nick Caserio weren’t finished.

They wanted an every down linebacker who could play inside and outside. They had a name in mind – Dont’a Hightower from Alabama.

To get him, they knew they’d have to move from No. 31. So, they entertained offers and the one from the Broncos sounded very reasonable. Denver simply wanted New England’s fourth-round pick this year and the Patriots could move up six spots to No. 25. Deal.

Ten minutes, two first-rounders and the Patriots had their guys.

“They had nothing to do with each other,” Belichick said, sporting a suit and tie in the Gillette Stadium press box. “We made our first pick and, we don’€™t know if a team’€™s going to trade or not. They might. As usual, there were teams we called that didn’€™t want to trade and teams that called us and we didn’€™t want to trade and there have been times when we’€™ve been called and did want to trade.

“You can’€™t count on that. We were focused on our first pick. After we made it, then we looked at what was on the board and what other teams are doing, made some calls, fielded some calls, whatever it was. I don’€™t know. There’€™s a lot of communication in the draft room. Nick handled most of that. So, that’€™s how it worked out.”

Belichick seemed very pleased with the unusual deals he struck.

“I thought we had a good day,” he said. “As usual, the draft always takes some interesting twists and turns. You just never know how it’€™s going to go, but as the players came off the board we were able to execute a couple trades there and still hang onto our two second round picks, which I thought if we moved up I wasn’€™t sure that we would be able to do that, but it worked out that way. Nick really did a good job of handling those.

“I felt like we got good value for them. [We] took Dont’€™a and Chandler. Probably could have been in either order, but we felt like we would have a better chance to end up with both players if it went that way, not that we were sure we would get the second one but we thought we might have a shot at it. Looking forward to working with both guys.”

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, chandler jones, Dont'a Hightower

Second-round mock draft: What do Patriots do with their remaining picks?

04.27.12 at 2:43 am ET
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The bad thing about the recent format change of the draft is that it is no longer two lengthy days. The good thing is that it allows a day between the first and second rounds, and that means more time for updated mock drafts.

The Patriots didn’€™t have to part with either of their second-round picks despite moving up a combined 12 spots with the two deals they made Thursday. That means they’€™ll still be on the clock at Nos. 48 and 62 as planned, but those are the only two remaining selections the Pats have in the draft.

Here’€™s how we have the second round shaking out:

33. Rams ‘€“ Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
34. Colts ‘€“ Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
35. Ravens (from Vikings) ‘€“ Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
36. Broncos (from Buccaneers) ‘€“ Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
37. Browns ‘€“ Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
38. Jaguars ‘€“ Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
39. Rams (from Redskins) ‘€“ Trumaine Johnson, DB, Montana
40. Panthers ‘€“ Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
41. Bills ‘€“ Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
42. Dolphins ‘€“ Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
43. Seahawks — Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
44. Chiefs ‘€“ Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
45. Rams (from Cowboys) ‘€“ Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
46. Eagles ‘€“ Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
47. Jets – Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois
48. Patriots (from Raiders) ‘€“ Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
49. Chargers ‘€“ Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State
50. Bears ‘€“ Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette
51. Eagles (from Cardinals) – Brandon Taylor, S, LSU
52. Titans ‘€“ Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
53. Bengals ‘€“ Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
54. Lions ‘€“ Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
55. Falcons ‘€“ Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi
56. Steelers ‘€“ Devon Still, DT, Penn State
57. Broncos ‘€“ Kelechi Osemele, G, Iowa State
58. Texans ‘€“ Brandon Brooks, G, Miami (Ohio)
59. Packers ‘€“ LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
60. Ravens ‘€“ Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska
61. 49ers ‘€“ Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California
62. Patriots ‘€“ Ben Jones, C, Georgia*
63. Giants ‘€“ Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

* Jones would be a pretty big reach in the second round, but with the Pats not holding any more picks in the draft, they would either have to trade down or take him higher than appropriate.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft,

Chandler Jones’ Thursday night Q&A with the New England media

04.27.12 at 1:36 am ET
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Here’s the complete transcript of Chandler Jones‘ Q&A with the media Thursday night after he was drafted by the Patriots:

Congratulations. What was that moment like to get the call from Bill Belichick and then to hear the Commissioner say your name? “I was excited. To hear Roger Goodell say my name, that’€™s just a dream come true and I’€™m excited to be a Patriot.”

One of your brothers already plays in the NFL. Have you talked to him about what it’€™s like and how it’s different than being a college athlete? “Yeah, actually my brother Arthur [Jones] has taught me a lot going through this whole draft process. He was basically telling me that the way I carry myself off the field, I’€™m not just representing myself, I’€™m representing the organization. I feel like having a brother that’€™s in the NFL is a great advantage.”

Do you ever fight with your brother [UFC fighter] Jon [Jones]? “Do I ever fight with Jon? No, we don’t fight at all.”

Is that a tactical move on your part? “Yeah, it is. He’€™s a professional fighter; that’s what he’€™s paid to do and I respect that.”

What did you do last weekend for his fight? “I was there. I was in Atlanta. I was sitting there with my brother Arthur. We were front row and supporting him. It was one of his toughest fights and I thank God that he came out with a win.”

How much have teams talked to you about potentially moving to an outside linebacker spot in a 3-4? “To be honest with you, I’€™m just excited to be in this defense. I have no idea where I’€™m going to play. I’€™m going to play wherever coach tells me to play and I’€™m just ready to learn this playbook.”

Is that something you did in college at all, dropping into pass defense? “In college I played at every position; I played at almost all positions. Making the transition to the NFL, my biggest thing right now is just to learn this defense and get that brotherhood bond with the rest of the guys on that defense.”

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Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, chandler jones,

Dont’a Hightower’s Thursday night Q&A with the New England media

04.27.12 at 1:31 am ET
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Here’s the complete transcript of Dont’a Hightower‘s Q&A with the media Thursday night after he was drafted by the Patriots:

Where were you when got the call? “I was in New York. I was with my mom, my sister, my best friend, my girlfriend and a couple other people and my teammates.”

Were you surprised it was the Patriots? “You know, I was on the second one. I thought they might have picked me the first time, but they traded back up the second time and grabbed me, so I’€™m grateful for that.”

Did you work out for them at all and what was that experience like if you did? “No, I did not work out for them.”

You had four sacks last season. Can you talk about your role as a pass rusher in the Alabama defense? “I would come in on third down and put pressure on the quarterback. Depending on down and distance, sometimes I would stand up and drop to be an extra zoner; sometimes we’€™d switch up different roles and have me do some of the other stuff.”

Is that something you think you can do at the next level ‘€“ rush the passer? “I hope so.”

What is it like to be a part of an Alabama defense that had so many first round players together last year? What was that like and how did that help you? “It was a good experience. Growing up with these guys and playing with them for three or four years, it meant a lot and it showed a lot. It shows the caliber that we have as people, as friends, and the caliber of the university that we’€™re putting out as many good players as we are. It has a lot to do with Coach [Nick] Saban, but it has a lot more to do with the way we addressed it.”

A lot of guys who have played for Coach Saban and who have come up here to play in New England say there are some similarities. Do you anticipate any similarities and did Coach Saban talk to you about the Patriots at all? “No, Coach Saban never really talked to me about the Patriots at all.  There are a couple of guys up there in New England that I do know that I’€™ve talked to and said that things are very similar.”

Do you know [Patriots defensive lineman] Brandon Deaderick? Are you close with him? “Yeah, that’€™s one of the guys that I’€™ve talked to.”
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Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Dont'a Hightower,

Winners, losers from first round of NFL draft

04.27.12 at 1:19 am ET
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With first round of the draft in the books, there’s time the breathe a sigh of relief and take in the hectic night, which featured the quickest first round in history. Now, we take a look at the five winners and losers of Day 1.

WINNERS

1. Bruce Irvin, DE, Seahawks Many teams knew of Irvin’€™s explosive — but raw — pass-rushing skills, with some seeing him as the most talented pass rusher in the draft. However, Irvin had a lot of character concerns coming into the draft, leading some teams to take him off of their boards completely. Mock drafts anticipated him going anywhere between the late first and late second rounds, so his selection at No. 15 wasn’€™t too many picks ahead of where some had him going. What’s surprising is that Irvin was the first edge rusher off the board in what was perceived to be a decent class for the position.

2. Rams – During much of the draft process, the Rams made it clear to other teams that they were looking to trade down from the No. 2 spot and collect as many picks as possible to rebuild their roster. After trading down to No. 6 weeks ago and again to No. 14 on draft day, the Rams have picked up two second-round picks to use on Friday in addition to two future first-round picks. They also grabbed dynamic LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers at No. 14 once they were finished wheeling and dealing.

3. Patriots fans – While a fan base tends to call for a lot of things heading into the draft, there was a near consensus with Pats fans as to what they wanted this year: They wanted Bill Belichick to draft a top-flight pass rusher early on, and they wanted him to stop trading down in the draft and to trade up to get an elite player. Much to their surprise, they got exactly what they wanted.

4. Cowboys — The Cowboys are always an aggressive team on draft day (Jerry Jones‘€™ trade up to No. 6 on Thursday night marked his 59th draft-day trade). However, the move to grab LSU corner Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick was a perfect strike in a draft class that was considered to have six ‘€œelite’€ prospects. The ability to grab one of those six (the Cowboys reportedly had Claiborne as the second-best player on their board) at the last available spot all the way from No. 14 was a great move for the Cowboys, despite having to sacrifice a second-round pick for it.

5. Jets — The Jets had only a few basic needs heading into the draft: a premiere edge rusher and a safety, mainly. In the end, they landed Quinton Coples, possibly the most talented pass-rusher in this draft class, without having to trade up with their choice at safety long off the board. There are questions about Coples’ work ethic and there will always be concerns about a player who is a bit of a head case in that locker room. On the other hand, Rex Ryan having that type of talent at his disposal should be a concern for the Patriots.

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Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, Bruce Irvin, Jerry Jones

Bucs, Giants select running backs to wrap up first round

04.26.12 at 11:08 pm ET
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The first round ended with a pair of running backs Thursday night.

The Broncos traded down for a second time, getting second and fourth-round picks from Tampa Bay as the Bucs moved up to get Boise St. running back Doug Martin, who rushed for 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior.

The Giants then wrapped up the first round with Virginia Tech’s David Wilson, who became the third and final running back taken in the first round. The Browns selected Alabama’s Trent Richardson third overall.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft,

A quick look at Chandler Jones and Donta Hightower

04.26.12 at 10:57 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio mentioned it a few times over the course of the offseason — when asked what stood out for him about this draft, he made it a point to mention the front seven. And on Thursday night, New England went out and acquired itself two premier front seven defenders in Syracuse defensive lineman Chandler Jones and linebacker Donta Hightower.

Jones, taken at No. 21 overall, is a long, lean player in the mold of Willie McGinest, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end who is known for his ability to get after the quarterback. He secured a first-team Big East nod in 2011 even after missing the first five games of the season with a knee injury. In seven games, Jones managed to accumulate 39 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks, one forced fumble and an interception.

As for Hightower, who was taken at No. 25, he can fill multiple spots. He’s worked as an inside linebacker in Alabama’s 3-4 defense, but has shown some positional versatility, including some work as an edge player. At 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds, he was a consensus All-American — one of the captains of the Crimson Tide defense, he finished with a career-high 85 tackles (40 solo), with four sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

Read More: chandler jones, Dont'a Hightower, Nick Caserio, Willie McGinest
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