New England Patriots 2015 NFL Draft and Beyond

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Feb 20, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Texas defensive lineman Malcom Brown speaks to the media at the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

1st Round, Pick #32 Overall — Malcom Brown (DL, Texas)


Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was the last link in New England to the defense that launched the dynasty. Ty Law, Richard Seymour, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Ty Warren, Lawyer Milloy, Rodney Harrison, and Vince Wilfork all starred on the dynamic defenses that carried the team to three Super Bowl victories, a 16-0 regular season and most amazingly an 11-5 record with Matt Cassel at quarterback in 2008.  As these players left via free agency, trades, retired, or were released the Patriots defense struggled to evolve from 2009 through 2011.


Head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia have almost completely overhauled the defense. They are young and athletic at almost every position–particularly in the front seven. The only pre-2009 holdovers are Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich. Mayo has played less than half the season the last two years due to injury and is likely in his last season in New England; Ninkovich has seen New England bring in a number of young outside linebacker/defensive ends to challenge him for playing time. The Patriots are young and athletic with explosive playmakers up front with Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard, and Jamie Collins.


Last season the Patriots added defensive tackle Dominique Easley in the first round to be their penetrating inside pass rusher. This season, the Patriots top pick Malcom Brown was a complementary tackle to line up next to Easley for at least the next half decade. Brown is not going to be a space-eating nose tackle like Wilfork was in New England. Brown is a very effective run stopper, but Brown is an every down player capable of creating havoc in the backfield on running plays and collapsing the pocket. With the pass rushing Dominique Easley next to him the Patriots should  be getting a burst of pass rush from the middle of the defensive line.


2015 Role:

Brown, Easley, Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones and veteran Alan Branch are the core of the New England defensive line and all five players will be rotated in and out on defense throughout the season. All five have pass rushing ability although Siliga and Branch are probably the most likely to get the call as the first down run-stuffers. The Patriots would like to split the duties so each defensive lineman get 450 to 650 snaps during the season and everyone stays fresh and healthy. Brown will be expected to be a plug-and-play tackle and carry his weight from day one.


Sep 13, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Malcom Brown (90) sacks UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17)during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

2016 and Beyond:

Brown is the future at defensive tackle and he and Easley will be counted upon to be the interior pass rushing duo to usher in an aggressive, attacking defense going forward. With a number of smaller, athletic cornerbacks who will likely be in a ball-hawking zone scheme looking to create turnovers from pass rush pressure, Brown will be expected to anchor the new pass rushing and chaos creating front seven.


Similar pick in the past: Ty Warren, DE #13 overall – 2003

Warren was six-foot-five and 300 pounds but was never considered a pass rushing presence. Yes, he did get 7.5 sacks in 2006 but he had just 20.5 sacks in eight years in New England over 106 games (all stats from unless otherwise noted).  Warren was more of a statement pick as New England had taken defensive lineman Richard Seymour two years prior in the first round and the selection of Warren signalled that Bill Belichick was building his defense around the defensive line. With Easley taken last season and now Brown in 2015, it is another statement selection by the Patriots