5 pass rushers Patriots could use to help Matt Judon in 2024

Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Pass rush is the most essential part of a defense; missing tackles is costly. Missing sacks is often fatal. The Patriots have recorded 90 sacks in the last two seasons, with Matt Judon making 19.5 of those. That’s about 22% for those trying to do the mental arithmetic.

Not only does that illustrate how fantastic Judon is, but he has made 66.5 sacks in his 82 career stats. It also demonstrates how much the Patriots need to get him some help.

The good news for the Patriots management is that they already have two guys who can help out, provided they use them properly. 

5 pass rushers Patriots could use to help Matt Judon in 2024

Christian Gonzalez 

Gonzalez has already intercepted a Tua pass and sacked Jalen Hurts in his young career. He only started four games before he suffered a torn labrum after dislocating his shoulder in Dallas. But in those four starts, he made 17 total tackles and defended three passes, along with the sack and pick. 

Using him effectively won’t be a problem for Mayo, he was the defensive coordinator last year after all. He knows what a special talent Gonzalez is. 

Marte Mapu 

Mapu was the Patriots third-round pick in 2023. In college, he was an elite-level “tweener.” Not only did he line up at both safety and linebacker, but he would also switch between the two as the ball was being snapped.

The Patriots failed to use that in 2023. That was partly because the defensive backfield was already a revolving door, so adding a rookie to the mix would have caused even more co

Mapu is currently listed as one of the Patriots’ strong-side linebackers. But if they use a bit more disguise in their base sets in 2024, Mapu could flourish. 

In 2023, he started one game, making 18 tackles, an interception (which he ripped out of Travis Kelce’s hands like a grizzly bear in a Patriots uniform), and a forced fumble. Hopefully, he will start more games in 2024, and the coaches will trust him to use his instincts more. 

Yannick Ngakoue 

He’ll be expensive, but there’s over $50 million to spend. Remember, Ngakoue might have played for six different teams in his career, but he’s still only 28!

He also has 69 sacks in his career! And in 2020 he started three games for the same Ravens team Judon played on and he made three sacks.  

Bud Dupree 

Dupree’s 2023 contract only paid him $2.97 million, so he could be surprisingly cheap for a veteran pass rusher. He is definitely a veteran, though—he turned 31 in February—but it’s not like he will have to play every down.

He’d just rotate in and out, maybe just for third downs. Dupree did start every game for the Falcons last year, though. He recorded 6.5 sacks, forced two fumbles, and made 39 total tackles. 

Justin Houston 

Houston is straight-up old—he's two years, 10 months, and 29 days younger than Jerod Mayo. He turned 35 in January. But he seems to get better with age—33.5 of his 112 career sacks have come since he turned 30!  

He’s played 151 regular season games in his 13 years in the league, and he’s been to the playoffs eight times. That’s the sort of experience this Patriots defense could use. 

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