NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Well, we are just a week away from the kickoff to the college football season and two weeks away from the Patriots starting their run to another shot at the Lombardi trophy. I have covered all the offensive positions and now I will move onto the defensive side of the ball, starting with the big guys in the trenches, the Defensive Linemen. There are a lot of prospects in this group, so lets take a look at some of these guys who might jump out this college season.
Some may argue that the Patriots got the biggest steal in the 1st round of last year’s draft when Defensive Tackle Malcom Brown fell to them. Brown has had a solid camp so far and he looks to be on track to start week 1. Two years ago, the Patriots took one of my favorite players in the draft Dominique Easley, but he has fought some injuries and has not shown the disruption and burst that he showed at Florida before he tore his ACL. I still have high hopes for him and hope the Patriots can find a way to maximize his potential and use him in situations that he can excel in. The Patriots also have Siliga, Branch, and newly signed Casey Walker. These guys are the space eaters whose number one job is to stop the run. This looks like a position that the Patriots have good talent and good depth, but Easley and Brown will need to develop or the Patriots could look to draft another player at the position.
#92 Adolphus Washington, Ohio State 6’4″, 295 Lbs.
#98 Anthony Zettel, Penn State 6’4″, 278 Lbs.
#55 Josh Tupou, Colorado 6’3″, 325 Lbs.
#5 Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss 6’4″, 280 Lbs.
#86 A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama 6’4″, 320 Lbs.
#7 Maliek Collins, Nebraska 6’2″, 300 Lbs.
#96 Chris Jones, Mississippi State 6’5″, 300 Lbs.
#47 Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA 6’4″, 310 Lbs.
#75 Andrew Billings, Baylor 6’5″, 310 lbs.
For a couple years, the Patriots relied on Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones to man the Defensive End position, but this is the one position that the Patriots probably have invested in the most since the Super Bowl. Jabaal Sheard was the big free agent signing for the team and he should step right in and be a part of a rotation with the two players mentioned above. The Patriots also drafted Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers and Xavier Dickson. Flowers and Dickson fits the prototypical mold of a Patriots Defensive End and Grissom is an athletic freak that might play all over if he can develop. The Patriots also have second year player Zach Moore who may bump inside. The need does not seem to be there, but remember, Chandler Jones is in his final year of his contract and he will be expecting a big payday that the Patriots might not be willing to play.
#97 Joey Bosa, Ohio State 6’6″, 275 Lbs.
#91 Sheldon Day, Notre Dame 6’2″ 285 Lbs.
#89 Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State 6’5″, 250 Lbs.
#44 DeForest Buckner, Oregon 6’7″, 290 Lbs.
#2 Shawn Oakman, Baylor 6’9″, 275 Lbs.
#91 Charles Tapper, Oklahoma 6’4″, 281 Lbs.
#90 Bronson Kaufusi, BYU 6’7″, 265 Lbs.
#91 Darius Hamilton, Rutgers 6’4″, 255 Lbs.
#90 Jonathon Bullard, Florida 6’3″, 271 Lbs.
#9 Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky 6’3″, 255 Lbs.
#38 Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State 6’4″, 275 Lbs.
#90 Shaq Lawson, Clemson 6’3″, 275 Lbs.
#49 Hunter Dimick, Utah 6’3″, 266 Lbs.
The Defensive Line has the potential to be a very talented group in the draft. Defensive End and Defensive Tackle are like polar opposites to each other. The DT position’s strength will be determined by the underclassmen that declare while the Defensive End class is chalk full of Seniors with lots of potential. While neither position looks like it will be a glaring need for the Patriots, the talent and the value may be to good to pass up on when the Patriots are on the clock.