2015 NFL Draft: New England Patriots Shifting Emphasis Toward Front Seven


In the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots addressed the offseason secondary departures by drafting defensive tackle Malcom Brown. Instead of chasing a top-flight cornerback prospect to help fill the voids left by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, the Patriots decided to bolster the interior defensive line, indicating a shift in emphasis from the secondary to the front seven.

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Remember, this is the second year in a row the Patriots have taken an interior defensive lineman. Dominique Easley flashed promise in limited action last season; paired with the explosive Brown, Easley should be primed to break out.

Very athletic and mobile for a 319-pound defensive tackle, Brown posted an outstanding 2014 season that skyrocketed his stock for the 2015 NFL Draft. A finalist for both the Bronco Nagurski Trophy (top defensive player) and the Outland Trophy (top interior defensive lineman), Brown showcased his ability to plug running lanes while also generation pressure on the passer.

With a formidable front seven in front of them, the Patriots’ downgraded secondary will have a lifeline.

Disruptful is best way to describe Brown’s playing style. He bursts off the snap, making his presence known early and often in games. Easley and Brown in the middle should help pass rushers like Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard generate heat on opposing quarterbacks.

Now that the Patriots have not one, but two first-round interior defensive linemen, it is clear that the defense’s strength will lie in the trenches. Complemented by an ascending linebacking corps of Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, and recently extended Dont’a Hightower, the defensive line should offset the secondary losses suffered in free agency.

With a formidable front seven in front of them, the Patriots’ downgraded secondary will have a lifeline. In 2014, the Patriots depended on lock-down coverage from Revis; this year, they will rely on stuffing the run and pressuring the quarterback.