Depending on how you count, there are 8-10 players who are crucial to the defensive front seven. Right now on the Pats it seems to be 9 -- starters plus top interior sub rusher plus sub speedy LB. Here's how I see the comparison vs. last year: NT -- wash. Wilfork is in his prime. LB (all 5 positions) -- improved to varying extents. All young guys, all getting better. (I'm not counting TBC as the starter). LDE -- greatly improved w/ Warren's return. RDE -- improved somehow, e.g. by an out-of-position but improving Brace. (If you move Warren to RDE, that doesn't change much.) Top sub rusher -- down. I don't think Wright is coming back. I.e., things are looking up even with the surprising lack of a talent injection via the draft.