Given the importance of the position, there's no doubting that the Patriots will need quarterback Tom Brady to be at his best to be competitive during the 2013 season. Over the course of his career, Brady has been exactly that; one of the very best signal-callers in the league.
But in a piece on NFL.com, Adam Schein breaks down one player from every AFC team that needs to be at his best for his team to reach its full potential and Brady isn't the choice.
Shein's "most important player" selection for the Patriots is one that many have spotlighted as a potential breakout candidate, second-year defensive end Chandler Jones, who finished with six sacks during his rookie campaign.
Writes Schein: "Tom Brady will be Tom Brady, even without four of his top five pass catchers from last season. But New England must be a well-rounded to make a playoff run. Jones started his rookie season flying -- quickly becoming a true candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year -- but injuries limited him to six sacks in 13 starts. The Pats need him to be the monster he is capable of being."
It was a hot start for Jones last season, as all six of sacks came during the first half of the year. An ankle injury limited him down the stretch, and his production was stunted in conjunction with the issue.
Coming out of the draft, Jones was billed as the type of player who may not flourish right away, but had star potential, some of which we saw during his first year in the NFL.
From this vantage point, there's little doubting that Jones has many of the requisite skills to be an invaluable edge player for the Patriots, though the development of both his body and technique will play a part in his long-term outlook. He talked earlier this offseason about becoming more physically proportional, while a more diverse arsenal of pass rush moves will lead to even more pocket disruption in year two and beyond.
Jones projects to start opposite of veteran Rob Ninkovich, who enters the final year of his current contract in 2013.
To see Schein's full list, CLICK HERE.