ESPN NFL analyst Chris Mortensen joined Mut & Merloni Friday morning to discus the Patriots' first-round selections. The Pats twice traded to improve their spot in Round 1 Thursday night, an abrupt departure from their normal way of doing things.
"Yeah, I was surprised," Mortensen said. "But of course, we've been sitting here saying, 'Hey, it's time for them to start moving up and getting players they want.' … I know that Bill Belichick absolutely knows that the AFC is right there for the taking for a handful of select teams, I'm talking about maybe three or four teams. The AFC has lost its depth in terms of championship-caliber teams, and the Patriots are one of the three or four."
Added Mortensen: "We forget that when the Patriots won their Super Bowls, defense was a primary factor, a huge factor. Now, we know they have the offensive firepower. With what they added last night -- the fact that they traded up, yeah, that was a surprise, but I also think that it was a really good surprise if you're a Patriots fan."
Looking more closely at the Patriots' picks, Mortensen sees plenty of promise in both defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower.
"My notes on Chandler Jones were something like, 'Ideal elephant position, kind of like a poor man's LT,' talking about Lawrence Taylor," Mortensen said. "Well, who coached Lawrence Taylor with the Giants? It's not to say that Chandler Jones will be the next Lawrence Taylor, but …
"The Hightower kid, he's a kid who just brings muscle in the middle, but when you go to your four-man nickel rushes, he can put his hand on the ground and come off the edge in rushes."
Added Mortensen: "I really like what the Patriots did. It was kind of like a refreshing surprise."