- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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We checked in on the Patriots crop of undrafted rookie free agents yesterday, and will now turn our attention to the seven draft picks, starting with top picks Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower.
Chandler Jones, defensive end (first round). It didn’t take long for us to witness what many scouts billed Jones as a prospect: an athletic, well-built physical specimen. What we’ve also found out, however, is that he already has an impressive arsenal of pass rush moves. They may not be entirely refined, but Jones’ upside is evident.
Dont’a Hightower, linebacker (first round). Another prospect with fanfare entering training camp, Hightower has been used in a number of ways thus far, showing very good instincts, ability to re-route receivers, and size. What we haven’t seen Hightower have the chance to do yet is tackle, a primary task for linebackers.
Tavon Wilson, safety (second round). We’ve seen Wilson align primarily as a safety, and he’s also seen extensive work on special teams. Wilson looks to be the third option for the Patriots at the safety spot, behind Patrick Chung and veteran free agent addition Steve Gregory. He looks like a sufficient athlete for the position.
Jake Bequette, defensive line (third round). Described as a polished defensive end by some scouts prior to the draft, Bequette has bounced back and forth between end and tackle on the defensive line, as well as taking some reps as a goal line tight end on offense. He isn’t the explosive athlete in the Chandler Jones mold, but early indications are that he offers versatility, something the Patriots covet.
Nate Ebner, safety (sixth round). The former Ohio State special teams standout has not practiced yet, having been sidelined with an undisclosed injury (he is not on PUP, however).
Alfonzo Dennard, cornerback (seventh round). Dennard left the team’s second practice with what looked like a right hamstring injury, and has not yet returned. He previously had an up and down start, finding himself out of position on a couple of big receptions, while also registering a couple of pass break ups. No timetable has been set for his return.
Jeremy Ebert, wide receiver (seventh round). Ebert was placed on the PUP prior to the start of training camp with a leg injury, and has not yet practiced.