Monday, October 1, 2012
Recapping impact from top picks
By Field Yates
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The strong start for a trio of top Patriots draft choices continued during the team's Week 4 win over the Buffalo Bills, as both defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower each notched a sack, and safety Tavon Wilson logged his second interception on the season.
Jones added five tackles, two for a loss, and two quarterback hits on the outing. He now has three sacks through one quarter of his rookie season, and looks like the real deal as an edge rusher, something the Patriots have not had in a young player in many seasons.
Despite leaving the game late in the first quarter with a hamstring injury, Hightower still finished with a pair of tackles and the sack, his first in the NFL. It is unclear how long Hightower's injury will keep him off the practice field, and if he will be available during Week 5.
And Wilson, who many draft experts believed was a major reach on the part of the Patriots when they took him in the second round, now has caused or recovered a turnover in three of the team's first four games. He's been used in a reserve and sub defense role, as well as on special teams. Exhaustive scouting efforts from the Patriots' personnel department have delivered solid early returns from Wilson.
Beyond their draft picks, the Patriots also received a major contribution from undrafted free agent pick-up running back Brandon Bolden, who bolted for 137 yards on just 16 carries, as well as his second touchdown in as many weeks.
Bolden flashed ability throughout training camp, and is arguably the Patriots' best option as a running back who can run both between the tackles and on the perimeter, as well as be used in a receiving-type role. Strong college production did not equate to a team investing in Bolden with a draft pick, but it's safe to start wondering if general managers league-wide are re-thinking whether or not he would have been worth the selection.