The New England Patriots needed additions at defensive tackle this offseason. After Christian Barmore, their depth players are underwhelming.
Barmore is a star in waiting, but he has to emerge from the shadows of injury and a lack of production to realize his potential. This has to be his season to break out. After Barmore, the outlook is sketchy.
Yet, when looking for positives at defensive tackle, there is no question that all roads and arguments begin and end with Barmore. He's the team's best.
New England Patriots Christian Barmore needs a breakout season
Christian Barmore is the Patriots' best defensive tackle, bar none. After him, the team can turn out Davon Godchaux, a journeyman signing from Miami who has underwhelmed in his two seasons in Foxborough.
Also on hand is 33-year-old defensive end/tackle Lawrence Guy Sr., an average NFL DT. Other roster players include Daniel Ekuale, who flashes pass-rush potential occasionally, and waiver-wire types, Sam Roberts, Carl Davis Jr., Jeremiah Pharms Jr., and DeMarcus Mitchell.
None of his teammates has anywhere near the potential of Barmore to erupt into a Pro=Bowl level player for the New England Patriots. The potential is there, but the breakout is still awaited. 2023 is the year for Barmore to break out.
The New England Patriots second positive is a rookie
The second positive for the New England Patriots at defensive tackle is a rookie, their second-round draft pick, Keion White from Georgia Tech.
The New England Patriots used this high pick to draft White, and he arrives with all the physical attributes anyone could look for. White is listed at 6'5" tall and 285 pounds.
Here's what nfl.com had to say about White in their Overview of the player,
"Athletic big man offering scheme versatility and projectable upside. White has good short-area quickness as well as speed in space. He lacks consistent early phase technique to control the rep, but his recovery talent, hustle and athletic traits put him in position to get in on the action. His pass rush is predictable and lacks focus, but he’s bendy and could take a big leap forward in this department provided the coaching catches up with the physical gifts. He’s still in the developmental phase, but his physical/athletic profile gives him a chance to become a plus starter as a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive end."
The Patriots surely were betting that White would be an immediate contributor. Second-round picks aren't expected to sit and learn. They need to contribute as rookies. White has all the attributes to be a terrific complement to Barmore on passing downs, if not every down.
The New England Patriots bet big on White, using a valued second-rounder on him. He's the second big positive on the defensive line for the Pats, though it's all speculative at present.
It's time for the Patriots to hit big on some high draft picks, and the team's first-round pick, Christian Gonzalez and White, are their best chances to hit it big early in the draft in years.
The New England Patriots have questions at defensive tackle, but ...
The New England Patriots drafted an edge/defensive tackle in the second round to complement Christian Barmore inside, at least presumably on passing downs.
White's immediate impact is essential if the defensive tackles are to complement the totally solid edge players Matt Judon, Josh Uche, and Deatrich Wise Jr.
Should White emerge as advertised, the New England Patriots' interior rush could be the key to surpassing the Buffalo Bills and the other improving AFC East teams to win a title once more.
So, let's assign a grade to the defensive tackles with those factors in mind. First, Christian Barmore is a bulldozing interior presence for the New England Patriots.
Few other defensive linemen can collapse a pocket like Barmore. The Patriots could have a fearsome defense if he collects sacks rather than hurries.
In addition, while Barmore's current roster compatriots are average, the presence of Keion White could be a game-changer for New England if he rises to the occasion. He should get the chance.
With this in mind, the grade here is a somewhat speculative (but hopeful) B+/B. Barmore's emergence and solid contributions by White could make all the difference.
How do you rate the New England Patriots defensive tackles? We'd like to hear your grade and the reasons for that grade.