Will Brinson, senior NFL blogger for CBSSports.com, took pains on Monday to clarify what he means by tagging "impact" rookies in the NFL. His piece, which names 10 such players for the 2012 season, is prefaced with specific criteria: statistical production, game impact, and playoff impact.
That in mind, the Patriots should be happy Brinson put rookie Chandler Jones in the No. 2 spot.
"It hasn't been a great run for Bill Belichick on defensive players over the past few years in the draft, but he's mostly whiffed on defensive backs. With the Patriots losing a ton of sacks to free agency, they needed someone to step in and provide a multi-faceted attack on the quarterback. That someone is Jones, and he could be ready for a huge year defensively," the author explained.
"He'll allow the Pats to mix 3-4 and 4-3 and continually put pressure on the quarterback, and in a division with Matt Moore (or Ryan Tannehill! Or David Garrard!), Mark Sanchez (or Tim Tebow!) and Fitzpatrick, Jones could pile up the pressures. No, it doesn't hurt that he plays for someone who's coming off a Super Bowl loss. But that's how these rankings work; if you can put up big numbers while pushing your team over the edge, you're a bigger difference maker right now."
Jones is already being compared to Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul -- a player consistently lauded by Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
How so soon? Rawness.
Jones left Syracuse a year early and so is considered green. But his skill, instinct, and athleticism create a huge upside for New England. Or, as Brinson believes, "impact" potential.