Thursday, April 26, 2012
Pats trade up for Jones, Hightower
By Mike Reiss and Mike Rodak ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots traded up twice in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday, dealing a first-rounder (No. 27) and a third-rounder to move up to No. 21 to select Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, and then swapping a first-rounder (No. 31) and fourth-rounder to pick Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower at No. 25.
It marked the third and fourth times since 2000 that New England has traded up within the first round. In 2002, the Patriots traded up for tight end Daniel Graham, while in 2003 they moved up the board for defensive lineman Ty Warren.
It also marks the first time since 2000 the Patriots have drafted a 4-3 defensive end/3-4 outside linebacker in the first round. At 6 feet 5, 266 pounds, Jones played in seven games last season for Syracuse as a junior, missing five games with a knee injury suffered in the season opener against Wake Forest. He recorded 4.5 sacks on the season, as well as 38 total tackles (7.5 for a loss) and two forced fumbles.
Jones played in 13 games as a sophomore in 2010, notching 57 tackles (9.5 for a loss), three forced fumbles, and four sacks. As a freshman in 2009, Jones had 52 tackles in 12 games, including 10 tackles for losses, in addition to 1.5 sacks.
A native of Endicott, N.Y., Jones was a first-team All-Big East selection last season.
Last season, Hightower was a defensive captain for the national champion Crimson Tide, a consensus first-team All-American selection by the Associated Press, a second-team All-SEC selection and a finalist for the Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik, Butkus Award and Lott Trophy.
He started 12 games at middle linebacker for Alabama in 2011, leading the team with 85 tackles (11 for losses), four sacks, eight quarterback hits, one interception and one forced fumble.
Hightower is a native of Lewisburg, Tenn., and played at Marshall County High School.
Both Chandler and Hightower were juniors last season.
After trading their third-round (93rd overall) and fourth-round (126th overall) picks in first-round trade-ups, the Patriots have only their two second-round picks (No. 48 and 62 overall) remaining in the draft.