Patriots: Who will lead the team in sacks this season?
2. Deatrich Wise Jr.
When considering who might pick up some of the “sack slack” in the wake of No. 1 guy Trey Flowers leaving town, why not look logically to the No. 2 guy and see what he might be able to do instead?
Deatrich Wise Jr. finished with 4.5 sacks in 2018, which was three behind Flowers and one ahead of Van Noy. He notably had 26 tackles and five sacks as a rookie in 2017 as well, bringing his NFL career totals to 56 tackles and 9.5 sacks over just two seasons.
He came into the NFL the same year as Derek Rivers, and though he was drafted a round later, so far he has run circles around Rivers in terms of individual accomplishments. Obviously the biggest factor separating the two players has been health: whereas Rivers has missed 26 of 32 possible regular season games since he was drafted, Wise hasn’t missed a game yet.
Like Van Noy, he’s also shown up big when his team needed him in the postseason. Across six playoff games, Wise has totaled nine tackles and two sacks.
While those numbers don’t exactly pop off the page, they’re impressive when considering that Wise has split valuable time the past two years with bigger names and veteran players, such as Flowers, Clayborn, Rob Ninkovich, James Harrison, Eric Lee, Geneo Grissom, and Lawrence Guy.
Obviously some of those players weren’t strictly defensive ends so much as they were outside linebackers, defensive tackles, hybrid players, or pass-rushing specialists, but in a defense as ever-changing and unpredictable as Bill Belichick’s, the underlying tenet remains the same: all these players played a variety of roles and wore a number of hats, which undeniably figured into how many opportunities Wise has had as a player.
Just as we noted earlier with fellow 2017 Patriots draftee Derek Rivers, though, this should be Wise’s best chance to emerge as a bonafide sack-master in New England. There’s just one player on the current roster who could eat into some of Wise’s sack total in 2019; and unsurprisingly, that player finds himself at the No. 1 spot on this list.