The ESPN Insider NFL staff recently forecast the top teams for 2016 in their Future Power Rankings list (the Patriots checked in at No. 5), examining all aspects of an organization's sustainable success.
To supplement the list, ESPN Insider has also produced a list of the 10 best players at various positions for 2016, including pass rushers. ESPNBoston.com's Field Yates was responsible for compiling the pass rushers list, and a second-year Patriot cracked the top 10.
Chandler Jones, who finished his rookie season in 2012 with six sacks, was Yates' ninth-ranked pass rusher for 2016, and he writes:
"When Jones was drafted, many billed him as a project-type player who would need a couple of years to develop. As it turns out, Jones needed less time than that to be an impact player, strip-sacking Jake Locker in his first game (leading to a fumble recovery for a touchdown for the Patriots). With unique length and a massive frame to fill out, the sky is the limit for Jones, who is just 23."
In conversations this offseason with the media, Jones has talked about his desire to improve the muscle proportion on his 6-foot-5 frame. He showed up to offseason workouts with a thicker upper half and looks ready to be a valuable part of the Patriots' front seven again in 2013. As is often discussed in this space, the offseason between a player's first and second year in the NFL often proves to be a critical one, and Jones will look to improve upon what was a quality rookie season.
To see the list in its entirety (Insider content), click HERE.