Tag Archives: Dexter Lawrence

Patriots – Giants Week 6 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
October 10, 2019 at 7:00 am ET

The Patriots return home on a short week to take on the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football. The team has the opportunity to begin the season 6-0 and will have 11 days off before facing the Jets next week on Monday Night Football.

This week’s game will be broadcast by Fox on Thursday, October 10 at 8:20 p.m. and can be seen locally on WFXT Fox  25. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analyst. Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (5-0) beat the Washington Redskins 33-7 with the defense getting six sacks and an interception while Tom Brady threw for 348 yards and three TDs.

The Giants (2-3) lost to the Minnesota Vikings 28-10. Daniel Jones threw a beautiful 38-yard touchdown pass but missed too many open receivers. The Giants run defense was gashed on the day to the tune of 211 yards.  

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Giants have met 29 times in the preseason including 15 years in a row. But they are meeting for just the 11th time in the regular season. The Patriots lead the overall series 6-4, but the G-men can lay claim to two Super Bowl victories over Brady, Belichick and the Patriots after the 2007 and 2011 seasons.  

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Giants Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game finally showed some signs of getting itself untracked against an albeit awful Redskins run defense which entered the game allowing 147.5 yards per game. Sony Michel churned out 91 yards, most of which in the second half as the run blocking got much better after halftime.

The Giants got chewed up last week and are allowing an average of 130 yards per game. The big men up front led by rookie Dexter Lawrence are playing well, but they were victimized by zone running plays that tested their speed and athleticism. They should get linebackers Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis back this week, which should help the run defense. 

With the quick week coupled with the travel, and the weather where it is expected to have heavy rains and winds over 20 mph, the Patriots may opt to further wear down a run defense that took a beating on Sunday. Look for plenty of Michel and Rex Burkhead, if he’s able to go tonight.           

Patriots WRs vs Giants Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game ended up having a very solid Sunday as Brady passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns after getting sacked three times in the first half. Julian Edelman was nearly uncoverable where Washington had no one that could stick with him. The running backs out of the backfield made big contributions with James White doing his normal solid work and Brandon Bolden hauling in a 29-yard touchdown. 

The Giants pass defense has been bad, allowing over 280 yards per game and allowing opposing QBs to post a 106.8 passer rating. Rewatching the tape of the Vikings game showed the play-action passing and crossing routes were giving them fits. However, the way to beat Brady and the Patriots offense is to bring pressure up the middle. That’s where Lawrence comes in. He has the ability to throw a monkey wrench into the Patriots plans. 

Look for the Patriots to utilize Edelman on those shallow crossers as he’ll take on Grant Haley in the slot. There will be no Phillip Dorsett, so Josh Gordon will be working against Janoris Jenkins. Look for the Patriots to run a lot of those two-back “Pony” sets with James White and Burkhead. Play action passing will be huge here to slow the pass rush and get the open man quickly.

Next up the Giants offense:

Giants RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Giants are missing the outstanding Saquon Barkley and his backup Wayne Gallman this week. Barkley suffered a high ankle sprain and is week-to-week and Gallman suffered a concussion against the Vikings. Now they’ll go with former practice squadders Jon Hilliman and fullback Eli Perry.  Perry is an intriguing player, tough physical, can carry the ball a bit and make the occasional catch. 

The Patriots front seven has been very good against the run. Last week, they had a single breakdown of a 65-yard jet sweep where the secondary missed tackles but other than that, they shut down the Redskins ground game. Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, and Michael Bennett have been excellent at slowing things at the point of attack and allowing the linebackers to clean up. Unlike previous years, the Patriots are doing a much better job of setting the edge with John Simon and Jamie Collins doing a tremendous job. 

The much anticipated matchup with Barkley won’t happen this time around and with the G-Men on their third and fourth options, I don’t see them running a consistent rushing attack against a unit allowing 78 yards per game. 

Giants WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Giants passing game has shown definite signs of life with Daniel Jones, who was impressive here in August for the fourth preseason game. But he’s missing his top WR in Sterling Shepard as well as his top tight end Evan Engram who are hurt. He still has the talented Golden Tate and Darius Slayton but will that be enough? 

The Patriots pass defense has been on an absolute roll this year. With a deep and talented secondary with 11 interceptions, an excellent group of linebackers and a pass rush that has already generated 24 sacks, they are playing outstanding football. They are tops in the league allowing just 160.4 yards per game through the air and just 6.8 points per game. Despite the short week, the Patriots defense will have a slightly easier time to prepare for the Giants passing offense as it bears many of the same looks as Washington’s. 

Jones has mobility but look for the Patriots to continue to be aggressive and attack the Giants offensive line while rolling their coverages to try to confuse the rookie QB. Jamie Collins may be a spy on Jones if he starts to hurt the defense with his legs. But with a depleted pass receiving core, this matchup should easily favor New England.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New York

The Patriots Mike Nugent missed his first extra point attempt but then was perfect on his next three while hitting two chip shot field goals. Rookie punter Jake Bailey has been outstanding. While the return game has been hit or miss with rookie Gunner Olszewski. 

Meanwhile the Giants Aldrick Rosas hasn’t missed an extra point and has only one field goal miss although his long is only 36 yards. Punter Riley Dixon has been excellent and is averaging 47.5 yards per punt. Corey Ballentine has done a good job on kick returns, while Golden Tate and T.J. Jones handle punt returns. 

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

The Patriots are playing on a short week, but get this one at home, which always helps on Thursday Night Football. The Giants are beat up physically and missing several key skill position players on offense. Their defense has been allowing over 400 yards and over 25 points per game.  

Bill Belichick has been kryptonite for rookie QBs when facing them for the first time and Tom Brady has an 11-1 record in Thursday games. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Running Game Center Stage – Look for the Patriots once again to try to establish the run against a team that is struggling to stop it. Sony Michel should see plenty of work along with Burkhead [if he is active], James White with some Brandon Bolden mixed in. 

Getting in good position on early downs will open up the entire offense. On the flip side, with no Barkley and Gallman, the Patriots should be able to shut down the run. 

Do a Better Job on Third Downs – The Patriots offense struggled again on third down going just 5-15 last week in Washington. That stat has to improve. With a strong running game, it will open up play action especially in third and short situations. The running backs in the passing game along with Edelman will be third down keys. 

The Patriots defense has been outstanding on third down and held Washington to just 1-11 last week. They will look to continue that as well as limit big plays by the Giants offense. They should be able to stifle them from making the long ball-control type of drives, so the Giants may have to hit some big chunk plays to keep pace. 

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers – The Patriots have been crazy good at creating turnovers defensively with 11 interceptions and one fumble recovery. Look for them to try to keep creating a favorable field position for the offense. With a young, rookie QB, they may be able to bait him into making a mistake or two.

Brady has made two red-zone interceptions in the past two games, both of which were poor decisions. Those have to be cut out as well as maintaining good ball control on a night where the weather conditions are predicted to be bad. 

___________

This should be a game, [on paper] where the Patriots should roll easily. The Giants offense is missing their top two rushers and their top two pass receivers. Going against a defense that has been playing as well as New England’s while facing a rookie QB, it has the potential to get away from the away team quickly. That’s why they play the games. 

It will be interesting to see Josh McDaniels’ approach for the offense in this one. But with Sony Michel and the running backs in the passing game, along with Edelman and Gordon, Brady should have plenty of targets to go after a suspect Giants defense. Patriots 27-6

The “Knocking on Seven’s Door” tour heads to New Jersey and a Monday Night Football matchup with the New York Jets next week. 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and breakdown game analysis

 

Patriots 2019 Opponents, Week 6, First Impressions of the Giants

Steve Balestrieri
October 9, 2019 at 8:34 am ET

The New York Giants are hurting, injury-wise coming into the Week 6 game with the Patriots. If there isn’t enough reason to hate Thursday Night Football, besides the asinine uniforms that the teams wear, several key members of the G-Men, notably on the offensive side of the ball may not be ready to go by Thursday night.  

The Giants came under a ton of flak this spring when they selected Daniel Jones from Duke with their first-round pick, sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Jones quieted some of those critics with some stellar play in the preseason. But after a slow start, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur benched two time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning and placed Jones in as the team’s starter. Jones’ first game he led a thrilling come-from-behind win over the Bucs and coupled that up with a win over Washington, before losing last week to Minnesota. 

This team though right now is beset by several injuries and that is a big reason why the Patriots are 16 point favorites this week.

So, here are our first impressions of the Giants of 2019:

Belichick is Really High On Jones, Was Hoping He’d Drop in the Draft:

Bill Belichick was practically gushing about the talents of Jones when discussing the young Giants QB. During Belichick’s conference call on Monday to the media, he sounded quite impressed with him.

“We did some work on him in the spring as well; he visited here and spent some time with us,” Belichick said. “He’s a very impressive young man and I’ve gotten the chance to see him play in the last few weeks here. So he’s a smart kid, has a good football background, very athletic, runs well. He’s fast, he can get out of the pocket and he’s a hard guy to catch.” 

“It’s a very diverse offense, and it looks like Jones has handled it very well,” he added, speaking about Shurmur’s offense. “He does all of the things that they do, including the RPO’s and so forth that it looks like have been included in the offense, have been added in the last couple years. So, he has a pretty complete playbook for his level of experience and he handles all of those things well.”

“He’s an accurate thrower at all three levels. He’s shown a lot of poise in the pocket. He’s taken some hits and had people around him back in the pocket, but he has a lot of poise and toughness and just stands in there.”

Jones was very impressive in a short cameo during the 4th and final preseason game here in August. But if you think Belichick is just inflating this week’s opponent, as is the norm around here, consider this. 

Dianna Russini of ESPN reported that Belichick told Jones’ then Duke coach David Cutcliffe, “Jones won’t be there when we are on the clock but I sure hope he drops.”

Injuries May Have the Offense Short-Handed: 

The Giants will probably be without star wide receiver Sterling Shepard who is out with a concussion. Tight End Evan Engram will also probably miss this game with a knee injury. Worse yet, Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that besides Shepard and Engram unlikely to play, that the Giants outstanding running back, Saquon Barkley is probably not going to be able to play either. 

Engram leads the Giants with 33 receptions for 373 yards and two touchdowns. The media in New York reported that there wasn’t a packed bag in front of Engram’s locker, which is indicative that he may not be making the trip to Foxboro. 

Barkley suffered a high ankle sprain about two weeks ago and although he’s been at practice, albeit in a limited fashion, he hasn’t yet received medical clearance to go. Initially, it was believed Barkley would out six to eight weeks. Now it could be much shorter, given his appearance at the last three Giants’ practices. 

Shurmur, however, isn’t having any of these reports. On Tuesday he stated, “You didn’t hear that from me,” Shurmur said when he was asked about the reports that described Barkley as unlikely to play on Thursday. “Some of the stuff that’s out there we didn’t put out there.”

The Giants Defense May Get Back Two Starting Linebackers:

The Giants’ injury woes on offense may be tempered somewhat by the news that two of their starting linebackers may return to action on Thursday night against the Patriots. Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis, who both missed the Giants’ last two games were full participants at practice on Tuesday. 

It is hoped that both will be ready to go and that will be a big boost for a defense that has been struggling a bit. The Giants lost rookie starter Ryan Connelly to a season-ending knee injury also and with three backups in last week against the Minnesota Vikings, the Giants were gashed for 211 yards on the ground. 

However, for one member of the Giants defense, strong safety Jabrill Peppers, he’s excited to be going against fellow Michigan alum Tom Brady for the first time. “This is my first time,” Peppers said. “I’m excited, I ain’t gonna lie.”

The Giants pass defense is ranked 28th in terms of yards allowed but Peppers has begun to assert himself in the defense. He had a pick-six against the Redskins two weeks ago and forced a fumble against the Vikings last week. 

Keep an Eye On Rookie DT Dexter Lawrence on Thursday Night: 

The old adage about the way to beat Tom Brady by moving him off his spot is very true while the silly wives’ tale of “Brady doesn’t like to get hit” is just that. Name me one QB that loves getting hit in the pocket. However, we digress here. One thing the Redskins were able to do, especially early in the game was bring pressure on Brady by only rushing three and frequently that was coming right up the middle. 

The Giants’ second 1st-round draft pick this spring was Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence who they selected with the 17th overall pick. The scouting profile on Lawrence had the big [6’4, 342] man being a premier run-stuffer but a player who wouldn’t offer much as a pass rusher. But early results show that may have been a flawed report. Lawrence has two sacks, three QB hits, and several hurries. 

If he can get the pressure up the A-gap that the Giants have been able to do to Brady in two SBs then they know that the chances for an upset increase. Lawrence, who grew up watching Brady on television as a kid, is eager for the opportunity. 

“It would be like a dream come true,” Lawrence said in an interview earlier this week. “That’s every young defensive player’s dream, is to go sack, Tom Brady. You see people get pressure up the middle, and he gets a little uncomfortable.”

If Barkley is Out Who Is Running the Ball? 

If Adam Schefter’s report is indeed true and RB Saquon Barkley misses this week’s game, his backup Wayne Gallman is also unlikely to play as he has a concussion. So the onus in the Giants running game will fall to third-stringer Jon Hillman and fullback Eli Penny who was activated off the team’s practice squad a la Jakob Johnson. 

Hillman is another guy who was formerly on the practice squad after going undrafted from Rutgers, the home for many of the Patriots defensive backs. Hillman didn’t have a lot of success running against a very stout Minnesota front seven last week. He gained only 20 yards on nine carries as they had trouble moving the ball. 

Penny a 6’1, 250-pound battering ram contributed in both the running and passing games and he may see a lot more reps and looks this week if the Giants offense is as short-handed as the early reports indicated. 

This is another reason why Thursday Night Football sucks. But hey, the league is all about player safety. 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

 

Patriots 2019 Mock Draft 2.0, Trying to Meet Team Needs

Steve Balestrieri
April 5, 2019 at 11:27 am ET

Friday is a great time at conducting our second Patriots seven-round mock draft. The free agency front has died down and although moves are still being made, those have slowed to a trickle.

Once again, I’m going with the assumption for our purposes that the Patriots are going to make 12 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Although I doubt it very seriously, we’ll stick with that scenario and make some trades in the next one.

Our first Mock Draft can be seen here:

I used the outstanding Fanspeak Your On the Clock draft simulator again this year. And once again depending upon the Big Board that you use (for this mock, I used the big board of Matt Miller, from Bleacher Report, who I like to read when it comes to draft prospects)…your results will differ enormously. So Let’s Go Drafting…

Patriots Mock Draft 2.0:

Round 1, Pick 32 – A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss:  Shocking to find him here at #32, much like our previous draft with the tight ends.  Brown isn’t the athletic freak that his teammate D.K. Metcalf is but he should be an immediate starter at the next level and is primed to be a big contributor from Day 1.

Brown is a big (6’0, 226) wide receiver who moves really well, and thickly, solidly built. Can play the slot, “Z” or out wide at the “X”. Outstanding ball skills and very good hands make him excellent at finding and coming down with the football.

He can win physical battles, beat corners with his terrific route running, or his athleticism. After the catch he more like a running back. Day 1 starter.

Round 2, Pick 56 – Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson: Lawrence is a great pick up at #56. Lawrence is a huge, (6’4, 342) defensive tackle who would project to the Patriots as a two-gap, run stuffer. Lawrence has amazing quickness for a man of his size and he’s able to penetrate with a excellent combination of size and power.

He comes with a red flag, he was suspended for Clemson’s bowl games for PED use, Ostarine which he denies ever using. However, he can be a integral part of the middle of the defense with his ability to stuff the run.

Round 2, Pick 64 – Greg Little, Tackle, Ole Miss*** No Change***: Little was still here again at #64 and that is a great place to pick him up. With both Trent Brown and LaAdrian Waddle gone in free agency and Isaiah Wynn recovering from an Achilles injury, tackle is a position that has now increased in scope for the Patriots.

Little is a big prototypical size tackle with the length, and girth you want at left tackle. Another shocker that Little was still on the board at #64 here. He’s got very long arms, is very strong and at times looks positively dominant in the excellent SEC.

But the knock on him is that he at times looks like he’s just going thru the motions. And that lackadaisical attitude won’t cut it in the NFL. But for that, I have two words…Dante. Scarnecchia.

Round 3, Pick 73 – Charles Omenihu, Edge, Texas: Omenihu is a late bloomer who didn’t turn heads until his senior season for the Longhorns, registering 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. He has the NFL size at 6’5, 280 with long arms and twitchy athleticism. He’s very strong with a very quick first step.

He’s still a bit raw as a pass rusher, but sets the edge well and has the ability to kick inside as an interior pass rusher.

Round 3, Pick 97 – Jace Sternberger, TE,  Texas A&M: I really like this kid and was shocked to see him still being bypassed and didn’t want to wait any longer… Sternberger had a big 2018 with 48 catches, 832 yards receiving and 10 TDs. He runs excellent routes and has the potential to be a big pass-catching weapon in the NFL.

He’s got a tremendous blend of catch, running, and blocking skills at the next level. He’s 6’4, 251 and has the athleticism to attack the seams and has a big catch radius. He’s limited as a blocker, at least for now as an NFL tight end. He’ll have to get a bit stronger for that. Comes from athletic bloodlines, both parents were college athletes.

Round 3, Pick 101 – Amani Hooker, Safety,  Iowa: Safety, while not a position of glaring need in 2019, could be one in 2020. Hooker has the size, 5’11, 210 and the physicality to be a solid replacement for Pat Chung down the road.

The safety has very good size, agility, and ball skills. He played the “Star” or big nickel that the Patriots use. He can be overly aggressive and borderline reckless at times but either in run support or in coverage, he’s always around the ball.

Round 4, Pick 134 – Keesan Johnson, WR, Fresno State: Johnson is a very productive wide receiver with prototypical size and length, at 6’1, 201. He runs excellent routes, has outstanding ball skills who is elusive and can generate yards after the catch.

He lacks timed speed but is a smooth route runner who comes out of his breaks well and wins contested catches. High points the ball extremely well with very good hands.

Round 6, Pick 205 – Renell Wren, DL, Arizona State: Wren is an intriguing prospect with good size, 6’5, 318. In college, they played him over the nose but he may be a better fit as a pure defensive tackle.

He possesses freaky athleticism for a big man but he’s a project and may require a lot of work with Joe Kim who helped Patriots DL work on their hand usage. Has a lot of upside but may take a year or two to blossom.

Round 7, Pick 239 – Carl Granderson, Edge, Wyoming: Granderson is another guy who would benefit working with Kim with his hand usage. He has all of the athletic traits and quick twitch that teams look for in their edge rushers, but he doesn’t set the edge well in the running game and may begin his pro career as a subpackage pass rusher.

Round 7, Pick 243 – Penny Hart, WR, Georgia State: Hart is a small, very small (5’8, 180) wide receiver who had excellent production at a lower level of competition. But got an invite to the Senior Bowl and looked uncoverable. He’s a very twitchy slot receiver who can return punts and kickoffs.

Round 7, Pick 246 – Wes Hills, RB, Slippery Rock: Hills is a bit of a sleeper after transferring from Delaware to Division II Slippery Rock. He has good size at 6’1, 218 with a nice blend of size and speed. Was performing well at the Senior Bowl before an injury struck. Can run between the tackles, outside, break arm tackles and does a nice job of catching the ball out of the backfield. Had over 1900 all-purpose yards

Round 7, Pick 252 – Khalil Hodge, LB, Buffalo: Hodge isn’t quite the explosive athlete that another alum from Buffalo named Khalil is…Khalil Mack. However, Hodge had 419 tackles in three seasons.

Although slightly undersized at 6’0, 235, he’s athletic, has above-average agility and the quickness to shoot the gaps. He’s an immediate special teams ace and plays on there with reckless abandon. Could stick with STs and work himself into a role on defense.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on several apps as writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

Patriots 2019 Draft Profiles – Defensive Tackle

Steve Balestrieri
April 1, 2019 at 6:30 am ET

As we count down the days until the 2019 NFL Draft is upon us, we’re going to look at some of the positions that the Patriots need to address to restock, reload and prepare to defend their Super Bowl title. As everyone knows, winning back-to-back titles is never easy.

So, with that in mind, we’ve been taking a look at several positions that the team needs to address. And next up is the defensive tackle position. The Patriots lost former first-round pick Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton during free agency. But then they turned around and signed Mike Pennel of the Jets, who we called for before free agency began on one of our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts. You can go back and listen to that here .

With a plethora of draft picks, the Patriots could still swing a trade for an established veteran, which we assume, they’ll try to do. One veteran who has been linked to the Patriots (I know, isn’t everybody?), is Chiefs DT Allen Bailey. Or the team can add thru the draft and they can possibly do both.

Here’s a list of some guys slotted to go early in the draft, in the mid-rounds and some late round guys that we believe would be a good fit here. We can start off by saying that we’d love Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver from Houston, or Christian Wilkins from Clemson. But none of those guys in our opinion will last long enough for the Patriots to pounce…so we move on. One name to keep an eye on is Mississippi State’s, Jeffery Simmons. He was a top 4 interior DL on most boards but tore his ACL while prepping for the draft. He could be a steal later.  

Dexter Lawrence, Clemson:

Lawrence is a natural two-gap run stuff who was an anchor in Clemson’s outstanding defense in 2018. He is a huge 6’4, 342-pound immovable object in the middle of the defense, but is not fat. He’s surprisingly athletic for his size with incredible size and strength. He’s a natural nose guard in the Vince Wilfork, Haloti Ngata mold.

Pros :

  • Outstanding run defender
  • Quick off the line
  • Doesn’t give ground on double teams
  • Very disruptive inside

Cons:

  • Not a great pass rusher
  • Can tire easily, works best in a rotation
  • PED red flag caused him to be suspended for the playoffs and championship

What his Role Will Be: Lawrence could step in and start on Day 1 as a two-down run stuffer. The Pats love big guys who can play over the nose.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2? Not much, he should have a big role right off the bat, if anything, with some improved pass rush moves, he could see more snaps

How Many Downs Can He Play? Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

Lawrence would replace either Shelton or Brown as another big body on the inside as a run stuffer

What is his ST Value? None

Lawrence has that big red flag when he tested positive for Ostarine and was suspended for all of Clemson’s playoff run. But if those issues are capped, he would immediately provide a huge presence inside against the run and would immediately become quite popular with the linebackers.

Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame:

Tillery is a guy that has been frequently linked to the Patriots lately in many mock drafts. Tillery played in a rotation his first two years and was a starter for his final two. He has excellent size, (6’6, 295), speed (4.93), and athleticism (7.45 in the Three Cone) for a man of his size.  

Pros :

  • Excellent penetrator in a one-gap scheme
  • Quick off the snap
  • Good closing speed on runners
  • Improving as a pass rusher, went from 4.5 to 8 sacks in 2018

Cons:

  • Plays too tall and upright at times
  • Had maturity issues earlier in college
  • Many interests outside of football have some questioning his commitment

What his Role Will Be: Tillery also could step in and start on Day 1 as a one-gap penetrating interior lineman.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2? Depending on how much is asked of him in Year 1, he could see a huge uptick in snaps in Year 2

How Many Downs Can He Play? Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

Tillery would replace the aforementioned free agents but could cut into the snap totals of Adam Butler, the interior pass rusher in the NE defense

What is his ST Value? Minimal, potential kick blocker on FGs/EPs.

Watching the tape of Tillery, one is immediately reminded of Stephon Tuitt. He is an interesting prospect and there were times last year, where he appeared absolutely dominant inside. He has that potential. If the Patriots go after him, they’d be more of a one-gap penetration type of defensive call. Tillery, like Lawrence, is a 1st or 2nd round pick.

Gerald Willis, Miami:

Willis is another one-gap penetrator who has had some off-field issues but was a very productive player for the Canes this season. Willis was very disruptive in the backfield with a terrific blend of quickness, and agility with excellent hand usage. He had 18 tackles for a loss and 4 sacks rushing from the interior.

Pros :

  • Very athletic for a big man
  • Very quick off the snap
  • Hands are quick and powerful
  • Ideal fit is a 3-technique in a 4-3 defense

Cons:

  • Gets too upright at times
  • Red flags at Florida and Miami earlier will have to be checked out.
  • Could add some size and strength at the NFL level

What his Role Will Be: Willis could initially start as a 3rd down interior guy and gradually work his way up to being a three-down lineman

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2? With improved size, strength and technique, Willis could become a very effective all-around player.

How Many Downs Can He Play? Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

No one, he isn’t a two-gapping space eater

What is his ST Value? Minimal

Willis is a guy who when he’s on his game, literally jumps off the screen on tape. He’s very disruptive and has the type of penetration skills the NFL is looking for. He can get washed out at times in the running game and won’t be a two-gap guy but has a ton of upside.

Isaiah Buggs, Alabama:

Buggs is another one of those Alabama defensive linemen who they played out on the edge but will move inside at the next level. Good size at 6’3, 306 pounds. He’s versatile and can one-gap or two-gap. Buggs didn’t test well at the NFL Combine and that may cause his draft stock to go down.

Pros :

  • Had a productive 2018, with 9.5 sacks
  • Very quick off the snap and instinctive
  • Very good physicality
  • Versatile, interior pass rusher

Cons:

  • Very short arms
  • Long speed a question
  • Pass rush repertoire lacking

What his Role Will Be: Buggs will be a guy that will have to be more consistent at the next level. But it seems he could fill in at any down as a one, or two-gapping lineman.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2? With coaching and consistency, he has the talent to be an every-down player from the interior for the team

How Many Downs Can He Play? Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

Brown or Shelton on the interior, but has work to do.

What is his ST Value? Minimal

Buggs is a good, but not a great interior pass rusher. He cleaned up last year because of Quinnen Williams being next to him. But he can be a productive interior rusher at the pro level. He’s versatile and can play 3-technique, 5-technique, out wide in a 3-4 look or as a nose shade defensively. Buggs is a mid-round prospect whose versatility good be a good fit with the Patriots.

Renell Wren, Arizona State:

Wren is kind of a sleeper and could be a “boom or bust” prospect at the next level. At this time he may be a better athlete than football player and whatever team drafts him may require patience until he can show his potential.

Pros :

  • Physically imposing
  • Freaky athlete, great explosion
  • Disruptive in the gaps
  • Can play one or two-gap style

Cons:

  • Production doesn’t match physical traits
  • Bad footwork needs fixing
  • Plays upright too much

What his Role Will Be: Wrenn is a developmental guy, in his first year, he may see the field only sparingly but has the physical capability for much more.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2? With hard work with his coaches on his hand and footwork, he has the ability to be a pocket pusher inside.

How Many Downs Can He Play? Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

No one, he’ll be trying to make the roster as a project.

What is his ST Value? Minimal

Wrenn is a good gamble for a late round pick, if he’s there in the 6th or 7th round, he could be an enticing player with a lot of potential upside. He’s got the size at 6’5, 318 pounds to be a very enticing prospect.

Daylon Mack, Texas A&M:

Mack is still somewhat of a raw talent and plays the zero technique, as a true nose tackle. Mack underwhelmed for three years at A&M but a coaching shuffle brought the most out of him in his senior season. He’s a 6’1, 336 bowling ball who flashed big time at the Senior Bowl, being basically immovable at the point of attack.

Pros :

  • Very stout, thick build, perfect for a NT
  • Immovable object against double teams
  • Excellent leg drive
  • Can disrupt with good initial quickness

Cons:

  • Just phone booth quickness
  • Not a good pass rusher
  • Gets too upright as he tires

What his Role Will Be: Mack is a classic nose tackle in the Wilfork, Ngata mold. He can eat two gaps and be a two-down run stuffer.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2? With some increased pass rush moves, he could see a slight uptick in playing time

How Many Downs Can He Play? Two

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

He is a good run stuffing replacement for the departed Brown and Shelton.

What is his ST Value? None

Mack is a guy who the NFL is moving away from, with the trend moving towards pass rushing specialists, but the Patriots love a big guy who can set the anchor and two gap over the nose. He’s probably going to go later in the draft and would be a big body who can defend the run and be a good disruptor for two downs.

Other players that could fit the Patriots defense depending on how the board plays out, include Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M, Ed Alexander, LSU, Chris Slayton, Syracuse, and Daniel Wise, Kansas (brother of Deatrich)

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The Patriots will address the defensive tackle position in the draft and still possibly add a veteran free agent. After losing Brown and Shelton in free agency, they were thin there but the addition of Mike Pennel should immediately ease some of that as he should get starter reps right off the bat.

They have Adam Butler who is more of an interior pass rusher like Wise who they can kick inside, Lawrence Guy is a big man who can stuff the run and generate some pass rush. I’d look for another big man inside who can anchor and take on double teams but there are some very disruptive, penetrating tackles in this draft. It should be interesting to see how they approach this year’s crop of rookies.

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