New England Patriots: Ranking the top defensive starters for 2018

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Devin McCourty
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Devin McCourty /
1 of 11
New England Patriots: Ranking the top defensive starters for 2018
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images /

The New England Patriots defense looks like it could be much improved in 2018. Here, we rank their prospective starters.

It is no secret that the New England Patriots defense was not up to par last year. Sudden injuries to key players and a lack of collective talent made it difficult for the squad to keep up with the more talented offenses in the NFL.

Even still, Bill Belichick is considered a defensive genius for his ability to develop a strong defense without much talent or superstar level players. The moves made during the offseason were geared toward improving the overall weaknesses on the roster.

The Patriots signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn and acquired Jason McCourty through a trade with the Cleveland Browns. The team also signed two linebackers through the draft to improve the overall depth of the defense.

Accordingly, we will rank the Patriots starting defenders for the upcoming season, highlighting their statistics from last year, and what they do best on the field.

11. Adrian Clayborn, Defensive End 

The talented defensive tackle signed a two-year contract with the Patriots on March 17. The addition of Clayborn will add much-needed strength and skill to New England’s pass rush this season.

Clayborn will also give the defense a boost on the rush. He is capable of stopping running backs and is versatile enough to play in a 4-3 as well as a 3-4 defensive scheme.

The veteran tackle can get to quarterbacks, stop running backs in their tracks and possesses great football IQ. As an Atlanta Falcon, Clayborn recorded 17 total tackles with 9.5 sacks in 2017.