Training camp is about two and a half weeks away, so to fill the lull in NFL news, we have to break out our bloggers caps, and do some analysis of the Patriots’ roster. Today, it is the defensive line.
Developmental Projects: Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom
Last year the strength of this defense was the secondary, for obvious reasons. Their top three guys cornerbacks were definitely the best trio of corners in the game (Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington), and they had the best safety in the game to boot (Devin McCourty). For this season, the strengths are reversed, as the Pats lost all three of those corners in free agency, and while McCourty is still here, that defensive backfield will not be nearly as good as it was in 2014.
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So with that in focus, lets break down the defensive front, which is one of the best in the league.
Do the Pats have the most talented starting front four in the NFL? Absolutely not. They probably don’t even have the most talented front four in their own division, as the Bills, Jets, and even the Dolphins have a very good defensive front. But what New England does have, is a solid, DEEP group, that can stay fresh, and continually get after the quarterback.
The Patriots can go eight deep along the front four, and that is not even including their group of linebackers, which is without a doubt the best group in the league. New England can go heavy with Alan Branch and Sealver Siliga to try and stop the run, and then when you need to get pressure on the quarterback, they can bring in Malcom Brown and Dominique Easley to utilize their dynamic skill-set.
Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich are absolute rocks on the edge, but they have been forced to play way too many snaps over the last two years, so having a guy like Jabaal Sheard to come in and spell them will be huge for the Patriots. Sheard is a talented edge rusher coming from Cleveland, and I promise he will make a big impact in 2015.
Lastly, everyone better remember the name of Dominique Easley, because he is going to be a beast this season. Now that he has had a year to get fully healthy, and learn the ropes of New England’s defensive system, he is going to wreak havoc in the middle for Bill Belichick. His impact on the interior will be Michael Bennett-like in 2015, and he will be a big reason why the Patriots’ pass rush might end up being the best in the NFL next year.