FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots traded up in the first round of the NFL Draft twice, selecting Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones with 21st pick overall and then snatching Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower at No. 25.
The Patriots traded their No. 27 pick and a third-round pick (No. 93 overall) to Cincinnati for the 21st pick to get Jones. They followed it up by trading up again — only the fifth time in the Bill Belichick era the team has traded up in the draft — to select Hightower with the No. 25 pick.
The Patriots traded away their No. 31 pick and their fourth rounder, No. 126 overall, to the Denver Broncos to get Hightower.
Jones, brother to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Art Jones, has the makeup to do big things. He has phenomenal hand speed and is good off the edge. He tallied 38 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles his junior year before declaring for the draft. He’s 6 feet 5 inches and 266 pounds, running a 4.87 40-yard dash. At the combine, he bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times. He fits the elephant linebacker mold the Patriots utilize.
Hightower, an inside linebacker, was widely regarded as the second best inside backer on the draft board behind Boston College’s Luke Kuechly. At 6-2 and 265, he’s fast for his size. He runs a 4.68 40-yard dash. He was an anchor on the top-ranked defense in college football last season and is seen as run-stopper with the speed to move sideline to sideline.