I definitely support the theory. I think there's a pretty simple reason why that Pats under BB have long preferred DEs who can set the edge and stop the run over dominating sack specialists, and have preferred CBs who can cover well and play edge-contain and tackle over gaudy "playmakers" who can't or won't. In 2017, the Pats play 8 games - half their schedule - against teams that placed in the top-ten in rushing yards and/or rushing TDs in 2016. Six games are against divisional rivals who all place in the top-12 in both categories. This includes two games against the team that placed #1 in both rushing yards and TDs in 2016 - the Bills (of course, Gilisslee is now ours). This is far from unusual. The Pats three divisional foes have all regularly placed among the top-ten rushing teams in the NFL for at least the past decade. That's likely due to the fact that they've had some pretty crappy QBs. Attacking those QBs off the edge is probably a riskier strategy than limiting their ground games and forcing their crappy QBs to throw into coverage. So, focusing on having a good run defense is perhaps a significant reason why the Pats regularly win the AFCE. Also, in 2017 the Pats play a total of 13 of their 16 regular season games against teams that placed in the top half of the league in rushing yards and/or rushing TDs. Taken as a whole, the NFL may be a "passing league", but the Pats face only about 40% of the league in any given regular season. In order to make the playoffs and have a chance at yet another ring, they still need to win a certain minimum number of regular season games. So, they need to build a defense that is, first and foremost, capable of addressing the strengths of the offenses they'll face in the regular season. More often than not, the majority of those opposing offenses have included those with top RBs and/or top-ranked rushing attacks. Of course, the problem with drafting a prospect who's a dominant rusher and good run defender is that they're usually gone by the time the Pats' first pick rolls around. So, the Pats typically end up with the far less exciting guys who are solid run defenders and who can rush a bit. Which suits them just fine, anyway.