Tom Brady once said, “If we want something done, we go to Jerod Belichick.” So, the new Patriots head coach has been the man to get stuff done in New England for a while now. And bolstering the pass rush is now one of the things that needs to be done.
Mayo has already said he intends to acquire talent in free agency, and 93 defensive linemen and linebackers will be out of contract in April. Signing someone like Josh Allen (the Jaguars’ one, obviously) is a move that most Patriots fans would welcome. But there will be younger (and cheaper) pass rushers available in the draft.
“Exactly how much of an issue was the lack of pass rush this season?” I hear you ask. Well, they ranked 5th when it came to hurrying quarterbacks, with 62. But when it came to getting their hands on signal callers, it was a different story when it came to. New England was ranked 31st when it came to knocking the quarterback down. Only the Cardinals were worse!
The Patriots’ 36 sacks ranked 27th at the end of the regular season. Even if New England had a defense-focused draft class in 2023, this is the sort of problem that should probably be addressed in both free agency AND the draft.
Keion White looks like he’ll be the sort of defensive lineman who takes on two blockers. Now they just need someone who can exploit that if Judon isn’t there. Or maybe they could draft someone else with the same sort of power? Two guys who can take on two blockers at a time would cause offensive lines real problems. Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter certainly had their moments in Philly this season.
Matt Judon only played four games this season (starting just 2), but he still had the fourth-highest number of sacks. Judon had 4 in his four games, and Christian Barmore led the team with 8.5. And he played all 17 games!
Here are five pass rushers on whom Jerod Mayo should keep his eye heading into the draft.
Jonah Elliss - Utah
He’s not the biggest or the fastest, but he has exceptional strength (that’s what happens when you’ve got three big brothers). And the thing about being really strong when you’re not the biggest is that it surprises blockers. The perception versus the reality works in Elliss’ favor.
His game tape is littered with 300 lb. linemen thinking they can block him, only to be bull-rushed into their own backfield by someone who weighs less than 250 lbs! He’s also got a nifty spin move he used against Bruno Fina of UCLA.
Elliss isn’t projected to be taken until the 3rd round (although that seems a little harsh). That would be great value for someone whose dad played in the league for ten years and three brothers playing in the NFL. This includes Christian, who signed for the Patriots in December (but will hit free agency in April).