The New England Patriots got solid production from their defensive line in 2016. Leading the way inside was second-year player Malcom Brown.
In the past four NFL Drafts combined, the New England Patriots have had just two first-round picks. And both of those high draft picks were used to address the defensive line.
One of the them can be classified as a bust in Dominique Easley, who was selected 29th overall in 2014. Easley went on injured reserve twice in two seasons with New England before he was cut. However, the other has turned out to be a good interior player in Malcom Brown, who was picked 32nd in 2015 and has not missed a game in two years.
Brown led the defensive line for the Patriots last season with 50 tackles while also notching three sacks for the second time in as many years. The 6-foot-2, 320-pounder teamed up with veteran Alan Branch inside as the team’s primary run-stoppers.
New England tied for third in the NFL in run defense en route to winning the Super Bowl, allowing just 88.6 yards per game. Only the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys were better, and a lot of credit should go to Brown and Branch.
In addition, the Patriots led the league in least rushing touchdowns allowed (six). Opponents generally looked to attack their defense through the air in 2016, which is another reason Brown deserves recognition. That would also help explain why four of the team’s top five tacklers were defensive backs.
New England’s postseason run was aided by Brown’s strong play as well. He registered six tackles and one sack against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round and then added five more tackles between the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl.