New England Patriots: Eight Strong Pro Bowl Candidates

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Oct 29, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins (91) celebrates a sack by defensive end Chandler Jones (95) on Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive End Chandler Jones

After an injury-riddled season last year, Chandler Jones has become the opposing quarterback’s biggest nightmare. He currently leads the NFL in sacks with 8.5, and has also forced a fumble. His ability to beat double teams and get to the quarterback has allowed the coaches to drop more players into coverage to help a thin cornerback group, which in turn gives Jones more time to reach the passer.

Belichick invested heavily in the defensive line this offseason, so they have enough bodies so that Jones does not have to play upwards of 90% of the snaps like he did when he was healthy last year. Keeping Jones fresh will not only help him late in games, but it will always help come playoff time.

Linebacker Jamie Collins

In his second NFL season, Jamie Collins showed flashes of how great he could be, but struggled with inconsistency. However this year, Collins has turned into a force on the defensive side of the ball. His athleticism allows the coaching staff to play him any way they feel necessary, whether it be dropping into coverage, spying the quarterback, or pass rushing.

He’s even become a factor on special teams. Against Indianapolis, he hurdled the entire offensive line and blocked an extra point attempt.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower

Simply put, Hightower has become a destroyer of worlds. He strikes fear into offenses as the Patriots top defensive weapon. He has inhuman strength. Against the Jets, he rag-dolled 220 lb RB Chris Ivory, and bulldozed C Nick Mangold.

He’s the Patriots best run-stopper as well, as he can penetrate offensive lines and take down any running back. Some will argue he’s the best linebacker in the NFL, but I say that’s an understatement. Hightower is the best defensive player in the entire league.

Next: Offense