NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
In April of 2011, Patriots fans were clamoring to draft pass rushers, their wish finally came true, a year later.
Bill Belichick & co. spent valuable resources retooling their pass rush using first round picks on DE Chandler Jones and LB/situational pass rusher Dont’a Hightower and a third round pick on Arkansas DE Jake Bequette.
So where does the productive former Razorback fit in the Patriots new front 7?
Bequette is a 6’4″ 274 lb. defensive end, who like Jones should project in an elephant role for the Patriots with the ability to rush with his hand on the ground or standing up.
Bequette was highly effective at Arkansas, racking up ten sacks his senior season playing in the toughest conference in college football while also missing three games due to injury. He showed off impressive athleticism at the NFL combine with a 4.82 40 yard dash, 4.07 short shuttle and 6.90 3-cone.
The former two-time captain at Arkansas comes from good bloodlines as well. He’s a third generation Razorback.
Bequette is the perfect player for the Patriots burgeoning hybrid defense. His versatility and frame could also allow the team to bulk him up or slim him down depending on what role they foresee for him.
It’s almost impossible to predict what the Patriots starting front seven will look like come September, but if I had to wager a guess I’m seeing Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes and Dont’a Hightower at LB, Rob Ninkovich at DE/OLB, Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love at DT and one spot open at LB/DE. That leaves Jermaine Cunningham, Chandler Jones, Trevor Scott and Bequette competing for that spot it the Patriots intend to go small. If they intend to go big, Brandon Deaderick or Jonathan Fanene could be starting at DE.
I don’t think Bequette will have trouble making the Patriots 53-man roster, but he certainly has some strong competition. Bequette, Cunningham, Jones, Ninkovich and Scott are all similar players that can play either OLB or DE. Andre Carter could also still come back, which boosts the competition even more.
The combinations of players and positions the Patriots can line up on defense are nearly endless. They could go with the aforementioned Mayo, Spikes, Hightower at LB, Love and Wilfork at DT and two elephants. They could also go with Mayo Spikes/Hightower and Ninkovich at LB with two DTs, a big DE and an elephant. They can also line up in more traditional 3-4 or 4-3 alignments and go either big or small in those formations.
Bequette should be able to fit into any of those alignments, which is what makes him such a nice fit for the Patriots. I can’t see him starting as a rookie, but he should fit a nice backup or rotational role.
Bequette signed a four year deal with the Patriots worth 2.654 million including a $539,800 signing bonus.