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Patriots sign first-round pick Chandler Jones

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The New England Patriots most important rookie pick since they selected Jerod Mayo in 2008 is now under contract.

The team announced Wednesday that defensive end Chandler Jones has signed his rookie deal. The Patriots traded up six spots to grab the No. 21 overall pick from Syracuse.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the labor agreement signed last year will give Jones a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth year.

While we called Devin McCourty the Patriot with the most pressure on him this season, Jones is close. New England expects to develop Jones into the type of homegrown outside pass rusher they haven't had since Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel left town. Jones is the team's answer to Jason Pierre-Paul, a freakishly athletic player that is going to be raw as a rookie.

Jones should give the team greater flexibility to bounce back and forth between a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme. He's expected to play right end, but coach Bill Belichick indicated Jones will also play outside linebacker.

New England only has two draft picks left to sign, including Jones' fellow first rounder Dont'a Hightower.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Jones had 147 tackles and 10 sacks as a three-year starter in college.

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