The New England Patriots worked out former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon yesterday, along with second-year DT Terrell McClain, who was released by the Carolina Panthers earlier this month. McClain is one of the worst DTs against the run in this league, but he is young and has potential as a rotational pass rusher.
Meanwhile, Dixon is a talented veteran who didn’t fit what the Eagles were doing schematically in Jim Washburn’s Wide-9 defense. It’s not a defense that’s built for strong run-stuffers on the inside like Dixon, who is one of the more underrated players at the position in the league. If the Pats sign him, he would be an excellent addition as the No. 3 DT behind run-stopping stalwarts Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love.
The 6’3″, 322 pound Miami product is 27 years old and was released before the Eagles 53-man roster cuts. I’m surprised that he has not been signed yet, because Dixon is a legitimate starting defensive tackle in this league with his ability to stop the run. He doesn’t make much of an impact as a pass rusher, but he isn’t terrible in that regard.
Overall, I would much rather have Antonio Dixon than Terrell McClain, despite McClain’s youth. Dixon offers more value in short-term, and McClain is a rotational defensive tackle at this point. He has upside as a pass rusher in third-down situations, but the Patriots already have a better player to fill that role in Jermaine Cunningham. McClain’s ineptitude against the run is something that cannot be reiterate enough, while Dixon’s prowess against the run is something to highlight when talking about him.
His release from Philadelphia was due to schematic differences, the drafting of Fletcher Cox (better fits the system), and the insane amount of depth and talent at the position that the Eagles possess. Dixon was not release due to a lack of production, and he is clearly the better option for the New England Patriots and nearly every team in this league. If the Pats want to sign a DT, then Dixon is clearly the better option of the two.
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