They're well-suited to the team
Jones and Hightower really seem to fit the bill
FOXBOROUGH - Jon Jones had shoes big enough to loan his younger brother Chandler, but the rest of the clothes weren’t quite long enough.
It wasn’t that Chandler Jones didn’t have a suit, it was that he didn’t know when the Patriots told him to come here on Friday that he would need one. He was at Jon’s house at the time, and made do with what his UFC champion brother had to offer.
So as Jones, the 21st overall pick in the NFL draft and the Patriots’ first selection, received his ceremonial No. 1 jersey from Robert and Jonathan Kraft in the middle of chilly Gillette Stadium, he was wearing a light purple button-down shirt and purple tie, but no jacket.
And the sleeves of the shirt were cuffed to hide the fact that the sleeves weren’t quite long enough for his uncommonly long 35 1/2-inch arms.
But the New York native, a pass-rushing defensive end from Syracuse, took it in stride. He couldn’t hide his excitement and laughed about his clothing situation.
“I was always a Patriots fan. I’ve always been a Patriots fan, a very successful team,’’ he said. “But when I got the call, words can’t explain the way I felt. Going into it, I didn’t know if I was going to laugh, didn’t know if I was going to cry, didn’t know if I was going to faint. But . . . I was smiling ear to ear. I’m really happy to be here, really.’’
Conversely, fellow first-round pick Dont’a Hightower wasn’t just in a suit, he was color-coordinated for the occasion: his shirt was navy-and-white striped, and a red tie was knotted at his neck.
Hightower, who has a round face that makes him look younger than his 22 years, feels he has an advantage coming to New England. Having played at Alabama for Bill Belichick friend Nick Saban, who was Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Browns, he knows what’s expected.
“I feel like it’s going to be more or less about me learning the terminology than learning a whole new defense, which is going to help me excel and play a lot faster, knowing exactly what to do and how to do it, being in a system similar to Coach Belichick’s as I was in Coach Saban’s for four years,’’ Hightower said.
Having now spent time around Belichick, the linebacker can see why his new coach and his college coach are friends.
“You can definitely tell those two are two peas in a pod,’’ Hightower said, smiling. “Everything about them, from the way they run the organization to the way they get down and talk to you as a man and put everything out on the table and let you know what’s going on.’’
A versatile leader for the Crimson Tide who was the signal-caller for the defense, Hightower gave an enticing assessment of himself.
“I think I’m tough, physical, hard-nosed. I’m a big hitter,’’ he said. “I’m going to get to the ball. When I get to the ball, I’m going to make sure whoever has the ball or whoever is around the ball, they’re going to feel me.
“I’m definitely going to be an intimidator, definitely want to be somebody who, not even the running back or quarterback, but even the offensive linemen want to know where I’m at on the field at all times. I’m definitely going to get to the ball.’’
As the standout on an otherwise average Syracuse defense, Jones faced a lot of double and triple teams. But he doesn’t know what awaits him with the Patriots.
“I have no expectations as far as what’s going to happen to me at this level. I was told about it - my brother [Arthur] plays for the Ravens - but I really don’t know until I get out there,’’ he said.
“As far as me being a rookie, my job right now is to know my role. Take whatever I can from whoever, anyone from Dont’a Hightower to all the veterans on that defense and front seven. For me being a rookie, I’m just going to be a sponge and just learn what I can.’’
Rookie minicamp is set for May 11-12. Belichick, reverting to form, traded the 62d pick to Green Bay for the Packers’ third- and fifth-round selections. With the 90th pick, the team selected Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette.
“We thought that there were enough players on the board and that they would last, and that we’d be able to get a similar value in that third round for an additional fifth-round pick,’’ Belichick said.
There were a record 19 trades in the first round Thursday night, and the swap meet continued Friday. Whenever there is a draft-day trade, there’s often a thought given to whether it was a win-win situation for both teams.
But Belichick said every situation is different.
“Each pick has its own dynamics,’’ Belichick said. “There wasn’t a real steady, consistent trade pattern, let’s put it that way. Some trades look better than others when you put them up against each other, but in all honesty the picks were moving pretty quickly and we kind of focused more on what the opportunities were rather than trying to sit around and analyze each one.
“Again, a lot of it just depends on what’s on the board, what you feel about what’s up there - how motivated you are to pick or how motivated you are to try to add picks and what the options are, or yesterday if you wanted to move up or to stay where you are and keep your own picks. Each one is kind of its own independent decision.’’
New England has just the fifth-round spot it received from the Packers (163d pick) remaining.
Just a high five
If the number of picks stands pat, the Patriots will have had just five draft selections - the fewest in team history. In 2002, the Patriots selected just six players.
Over the previous three years, they drafted 33 players.