New England Patriots: 2 huge positives at the edge in 2023

Edge position of the New England Patriots is a force to be reckoned with
New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills / Bryan Bennett/GettyImages

The New England Patriots' offseason is essentially now complete including at the edge position on defense. The edge from which the pass rush largely emanates is one of the strongest units on the roster. It's a position that brings not only top talent but also important depth. It's where all other Patriots units should be.

For the purposes of this exercise, the edge position will include both the outside linebackers and the defensive ends. The team is well-stocked with NFL-starting-level talent as well as players with Pro Bowl aspirations or better. The New England Patriots are solid at the edge. Let's take a look at the position beginning with the defensive ends.

New England Patriots strength at defensive end

The New England Patriots have strength on the end of the defensive line. It's a sure positive for the team. It starts with down defensive end, Dietrich Wise Jr. Wise is a Patriots success story having risen from a 2017 fourth-round pick to a solid contributor now entering his seventh NFL season. Wise was the team's best draftee in 2017.

Wise had a career year in 2022 notching 7.5 sacks and 59 total tackles, both career highs. He's a solid fixture at left defensive end. Complementing Wise is Josh Uche, who can play both as a standup outside linebacker or with his hand on the ground. Uche usually takes off from the right side and complements Wise nicely.

Uche also had a career year in 2022. Free of nagging injuries, he racked up a career-high 11.5 sacks. He had only four sacks in his previous two seasons after being a second-round pick in 2020. Uche's 2022 season certainly finally justified that high pick. Which Uche shows up in 2023 will have a huge bearing on the Patriots' pass rush. Uche and Wise are the Patriots' second positive at the edge.

New England Patriots top player is an edge player

The New England Patriots' top positive on the edge is Pro Bowler, Matt Judon. There's no surprise there. Judon is entering his third season in New England and he has more than earned the free-agent contract he signed in 2021. A star from the get-go, Judon seems to get better with age. The soon-to-be 31-year-old is a force to be reckoned with at left outside linebacker.

Judon has been stellar since joining the Patriots in 2021 when he racked up 60 tackles and 12.5 sacks. In 2022, he raised his game notching a similar 60 stops with 15.5 sacks. That total of 28 sacks helped Judon earn Pro Bowl appearances in each of his first two seasons in Foxborough. Expect the same or better in 2023.

Judon is a starter, star, and leader on an improving New England Patriot defense. He's their best defender, and also their best player period, though some might consider Rhamondre Stevenson a top contender for that position, and rightly so. Both are top performers and the absolute best players on the squad.

Grading the edge position on the New England Patriots

After Judon, Uche, and Wise, the Patiots can also roll out rookie edge player Keion White. White, a second-round pick in 2023 lends versatility to the defensive line. White not only plays as a down end but also can play standing up as an edge rusher. In addition, he can slide inside to add pocket-collapsing power to that of top defensive tackle, Christian Barmore. If White plays to the level of a second-round pick in 2023, the sky is the limit for the New England Patriots' sack potential.

Other defensive linemen also slot in at the defensive end but their potential is limited. Nonetheless, the Patriots with Judon, Wise, Uche, and now White to add to the equation possess one of the top edge units in the NFL. With all this in mind, let's assign a grade to the New England Patriots edge position.

Evaluating a position of strength like edge on the New England Patriots is a pleasure. The position is one of few on the Patriots where the personnel team has effectively used both free agency and the draft. They constructed a veritable edge-rushing monster to unleash against AFC East and any other opponents.

A top grade for the New England Patriots at the edge is a given. Judon, Uche, Wise, and now White are as deep a unit as exists on the roster. They will menace opposing quarterbacks. It's an easy grade of A/A-, with the minus only attributing to White's rookie status. How do you grade the edge position on the Patriots? We'd like to hear.