Needs Analysis: Defensive Line

Discussion in 'Patriots Draft Talk' started by BradyManny, Nov 4, 2008.

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  1. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    I've been breaking down the Pats roster and the outlook for the future. I've been doing it for myself, but I thought I'd share in the case it had any chances of spurring some conversation or bringing about discussion on potential draft prospects at a given position.

    Note: the "Bottom Line" assessment of the need at a given position is informed only by what players are under contract for next season. IE, for the DL, I say 1-2 players are needed, our own UFA such as Wright could fill one of those position of need.

    Any thoughts are welcome...

    The first position...Defensive Line:

    DEFENSIVE LINE (8), 5 signed, 3 unsigned

    DE - Seymour (2009)
    DE - Warren (2013)
    NT - Wilfork (2009)

    DE - Green (2009)
    DT - Le Kevin Smith (2009)

    DL - Wright
    DL - Kenny Smith (IR)

    Practice Squad:
    DT - Titus Adams

    LOCKS (4):
    Seymour, Warren, Wilfork, Green are absolute locks. Le Kevin Smith could help secure a spot if he continues to play well in a rotational role.

    1) Backup NT 2) Potential long term answer @ DE if Seymour leaves/replacement for Wright if he leaves in free agency


    - Wright would be most welcome back, but can likely find more PT and $$ elsewhere.
    - Le Kevin Smith has played well in a rotational role, but with Wilfork’s contract expiring at the end of 2009, the team might want to invest in a backup with higher upside.
    - Titus Adams on the practice squad has some potential as a backup NT, but isn’t going to leap frog Le Kevin Smith anytime soon.

    - Ideally, the team can bring back Wright and give him a long term deal similar to Jarvis Green’s. Then they would be pretty set for next year and have good depth going forward. Unfortunately, that may not be the case.
    -Regardless, with Wilfork and Seymour reaching the end of their contracts in 2009, the team would be wise to either work to extend one or both of them, or they will have to spend a Day 1 pick on either DL position.

    Bottom Line: 1-2 players are needed. They will have to a) extend Wilfork b) re-sign Wright and/or c) get a sense of whether Seymour will return. Otherwise, they will need to spend a Day 1 pick on an impact player in the draft.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  2. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 Supporter Supporter

    #3 Jersey

    I'm not 100% sure of that; remember, he has ended up on IR two of the last four seasons.
  3. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    Also worth adding that with a healthy Jarvis Green back, Wright only saw 2 snaps last night. Granted, the nickel has turned into a 2-4-5, so its Sey & Green who are going to rush the passer.
  4. D-Money

    D-Money In the Starting Line-Up

    Our pass rush really sucked against the colts.I would like to see some young guys drafted at DE.
  5. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    I'm personally currently in the midst of a dilemma.

    We all know that finding 3-4 DL who can two gap and stop the run isn't easy. The Patriots have found 3 guys who can do that extremely well.

    The problem is, the way the league is now, and with some great passing teams out there, a DL who can go kill the QB is pretty important too. Vince Wilfork only played 1/3rd of the snaps against the Colts, yet the guy might be the most important player on the defense. How do we value him and what kind of contract does he get with that in mind? Is it time to start putting a value on pass rushing DLs?

    Jarvis Green essentially is that, but perhaps we could use another, or one with slightly more power as a pass rusher. But I'm thinking that the most ideal situation is to re-sign Sey & Wilfork and STILL make a move at a Day 1 talent at DL - but not necessarily one in the 3-4 DL mold and not necessarily a 3-4 tweener OLB. That is the dilemma of operating a 3-4 in this pass happy league - your defense is predicated on stopping the run, but the guys who do that aren't necessarily great pass rushers. Big Sey happens to be both.

    Two that a crazy thought [investing on a DL on Day 1, but one intended only for the nickel and dime packages], and if not, where can we find such a prospect in the draft this upcoming April?
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  6. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    To follow up, let's say we had a guy with the power and speed of some of those QB killers on the Giants.

    The nickel would be a 3-3-5. Though I know that with the emergence of Guyton, the team has been going 2-4-5 a lot lately.

    You'd have Green, Seymour, and new DL rushing up front.

    For the linebackers, you can use any combination of AD, Vrabel, Mayo & Guyton. I could see two sets of personnel for the 3 LBs - one which is heavier on pass rush (AD & Vrabel outside, Guyton the lone ILB) and one which is heavier on coverage (AD outside & rushing, Guyton & Mayo inside covering or blitzing up the middle).
  7. BritPat

    BritPat In the Starting Line-Up

    #54 Jersey

    Orakpo, Selvie. Both can play hands up or hand on the ground. Or you can move Adalius there, who is still pretty good at getting to the QB.
  8. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    That's the thing - Adalius has been getting pressure. Between Adalius and or Vrabel, you'd think the edge is all set. Jarvis Green hasn't quite been himself this season, 0 sacks so far after 14 over the last two, perhaps when he is generating more pressure, it will be a non issue and we won't have to worry about the pass rush when drafting.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
  9. BritPat

    BritPat In the Starting Line-Up

    #54 Jersey

    Just throwing this our there - what about giving Jarvis some snaps at OLB? Think he could grasp the position?

    Or has he already?
  10. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    I think that's been brought up here before - I'm thinking he just doesn't have the skillset or build for it. He's too big to be dropping back in coverage, which is a duty of OLBs in our system - when Jarvis comes in, you know he's teeing off after the QB. As a DLineman, he's not doing it off the edge like the OLB would.
  11. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks Supporter Supporter

    To discuss your concern over Wilfork not getting a lot of snaps in Indy - see the Wednesday injury report.

    Vince has been doing a good job of collapsing the pocket, he and Sey and Ty do that quite well. Jarvis has been nicked up this season, so he's not getting his numbers. LeKevin has been moved to DE where he does a good job, he just wasn't cutting it at NT. Wright is still the reserve NT. I have no clue what Titus Adams will turn into, we may get an idea next Training Camp/Preseason.

    Until Sey/Vince are extended, or Wright re-signed, I have DL as a Day One "need." BB has gotten some solid reserve DL late in the draft/UDFA: Green, Wright, L.Smith. My Day One "value" comes from the potential problem of replacing a Seymour or Wilfork.

    I'm still looking at the "need" as a positional thing, with no clear picture of who might be available in this draft that could work out well for the Pats. Ochmed is raving about Cody from Alabama, but I'm seeing and hearing items that indicate other observers are also rating Cody highly, it's starting to look like he'll be gone before the Pats pick at #32. ;)

    I don't see the value of drafting a one-gap sack master - see Brown, Kareem - unless you believe they can project into a 3-4 two-gap role. The Pats 3-4 defense has served them well when they've had the healthy personnel to play it, I don't expect them to change without a change in coaching philosophy. Any edge rush is still coming from OLB, and drafting an edge rusher still means they have to transition and will likely be held back to develop - see Gholston, Vernon. We'll see if Crable and Redd are competitive next Training Camp and whether Guyton's and Mayo's pass rush skills improve after the off-season program.
  12. Ochmed Jones

    Ochmed Jones Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    #12 Jersey

    The Giants play a 4-3 and the players they find have a different skill set then the players BB is looking for.

    Let's not forget that BB does not want to become predictable. He needs for either OLB to be able to blitz off the the edge and/or be able to stop the run and/or be able to cover. Having 3 OLbs that could potentially come after the QB on any given play allows him the flexibility to use exotic coverages and blitzes.

    The biggest problem this season is that neither Seymour nor Warren/Green are getting to the QB and the 2 OLB's have not been much better. Hence the mulittude of long completions.

    Without any playmakers in the secondary, a strong pass rush is essential and we do not have it. I know the secondary had a good game vs. Indy, but let's face it, Manning's knee is an issue, he can not put any mustard on his throws because he can not drive off that leg.

    I still think a pass rushing demon off the edge is our single biggest need and this draft is lacking in that area.
  13. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    Yes, no doubt, but when the nickel package comes in, suddenly the need for two-gapping DLs is lessened. Likewise, if the nickel is going to continue to be 2 DLs and 2 OLBs, all of which are rushing most of the time, and Guyton and or Mayo can continue to play well at ILB in coverage, then needing OLBs who can drop in coverage is more of a luxury than a need.

    So, sure, the Pats ideally are looking for DLs in the 3-4 mold, who two-gap, control the line of scrimmage - and they have 3 of those guys. And sure, the Pats ideally are looking for OLBs that can rush the passer and drop in coverage, and the Pats have 2 of them. Yet, here were are, agreeing that there is something seemingly undefinable, at least from my view, missing from their pass rush - so going outside of the mold of the typical 3-4 positions and finding a player that doesn't necessarily fit the Pats system when in its base 3-4 might be an option, IMO.
  14. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    Isn't that what Jarvis Green is in a way? Again, see my above post - maybe I'm well off the mark, but the Pats are in nickel and dime packages probably half the snaps these days, to me, drafting someone specifically for those packages is not a bad thing.

    When Wilfork, Warren and Seymour are doing their thing, they're forcing an awful lot of 3rd and longs, which sees 1 or 2 of those guys leave the field.
  15. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks Supporter Supporter

    Jarvis Green is a two-gap, 3-4 DE, who happens to be a good pass rusher. He is not a pin your ears back and rush the QB DL because even on passing downs his first responsibility is the run.
    Not in the least, those front six in the nickel still have to read run first, they may have their ears pinned back based on pre-snap reads, but they are still playing their gaps.

    The Pats have three OLB who can cover, please don't under-sell Woods, he's there at #3 OLB because he has demonstrated the ability to execute in all three assignments.

    Ochmed, among others, is right that a stud edge rusher is highly desirable. I still maintain anyone the Pats draft will find themselves in the same situation as Shawn Crable. Signing an Adalius Thomas or a Rosevelt Colvin seems the most trustworthy method of generating a pass rush in the first year or two. Signing a George Selvie or another top college pass rusher is more of a longer termed solution - a good investment, but you need to let it mature to reap the big rewards.
  16. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    OK, good to know.

    Fair enough, I agree re: Woods, but he is a FA at the end of the season, and he could go the way of TBC. Although I just checked Miguel's page and saw that its as an RFA.

    Well then in the short term, the Pats would be set. No one is going to overtake AD or Vrabel anytime soon and if Woods is an RFA, then they're good there, too. Then you have Crable and Redd on the developmental course, which presumably any OLB they'd draft, regardless of where they took them, would have to spend some time. I'm actually going to start an LB thread now which will specifically bring up this point.
  17. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    The defensive line is a serious draft need, by far the most serious. (A defensive back or two or three or four can always be found in free agency). The entire DL is their contract year; all except Warren. I would say that LeKevin is a lock to make the team for 2009. Why wouldn't we keep him? He is an inexpensive backup.

    It is in this offseason that we will consider extensions to the DL. The draft will rest on the progress of those talks. I would not be surprised to see three draftees in the first four rounds. Adams will his opportunity for a roster spot. Wright will need to make a decision.

  18. Ochmed Jones

    Ochmed Jones Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    #12 Jersey

    If the only DL guy we pick up is Mount Cody, then I am happy as can be.

    Cody is defintely favoring the leg since he returned to the lineup, so maybe he slips down the draft board.

    If he loses a quick 60 lbs in the offseason and gets down into the 350-360 range, NFL 3-4 teams will be falling over themselves to get at him.
  19. jarvis green has become a liability against the run, and is not worth the $$ to be situational on passing downs only......dump him......and draft clinton mcdonald in round 4........extend wright because he can play every spot on the line....and then draft will johnson in round 6 or 7.........

    should shore us up for the near term provided they extend wilfork and seymour
  20. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    I agree LeKevin is likely a lock, I just didn't want to guarantee it. If, for instance, we re-signed Mike Wright and we draft a stud DL, then I wouldn't have problem cutting an inexpensive backup. But there's a couple of if's and but's right there.

    I think the club should be very pro-active in extending Wilfork and re-signing Wright, b/c it will inform their draft day decisions. If they don't get either of those things done, then I agree, DL is the most pressing need I can think of. But they should get those things done, b/c then if they don't, and if they spend some high picks on DL, and they re-sign Wright, and re-sign Wilfork and Sey after 09, then they've spent some high picks on backups.
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