Building The Patriots Big Board: Defensive Line

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

With the offensive side of the ball taken care of, it is time to turn our attention to the defense. Today, I will focus on the Defensive Line. Like the Offensive Line, I will break this group up into 2 different categories. I thought about grouping the edge players in this group as well, but the Patriots look for guys who can do a little more than just rush the passer, so that group will be included with the Linebackers. Overall, this group leaves a little to be desired, but there are some intriguing players that fit in well with what the Patriots like to do.

Position: Defensive Line

Priority:  Low (DT) High (DE)

Current Roster:

Defensive Tackles:

Malcom Brown (age 23, signed through 2018)

Allen Branch (age 32, signed through 2018)

Woodrow Hamilton (age 24, signed through 2017)

Vincent Valentine (age 23, signed through 2019)

Darius Kilgo (age 25, signed through 2017)

Defensive Ends:

Trey Flowers (age 23, signed through 2018)

Kony Ealy (age 25, signed through 2017)

Lawrence Guy (age 27, signed through 2020)

Geneo Grissom (age 24, signed through 2018)

Rob Ninkovich (age 33, signed through 2017)

Position Overview:

When you look at the current lineup, the need at Defensive End is apparent. Flowers broke out late last year and the team will lean on him to continue to develop. He is better as a penetrating disruptor and it will be interesting to see how he does when he is getting more playing time and there is a target on his back.  Ninkovich is getting up their in age and his role is kind of a hybrid LB/DE because the Patriots play so much 5-2 nickel. They brought in Ealy and Guy this off season to fill the holes in the roster left by the departures of Sheard and Long. While Guy is the more traditional DE, Ealy is in the same mold as Flowers. We shall see if the Patriots can get Ealy to play more consistent rather than show flashes of greatness with long stretches of below average play. At the Defensive Tackle position, the team seems pretty set. The rotation of Brown, Valentine and Branch was very effective last season. I thought Brown took a step back a little last year, and I hope he can regain his rookie form. Valentine was a nice surprise and hopefully he can make the year two jump. The only way I see a true Defensive Tackle getting drafted is if a player falls that the Patriots love.

Defensive Tackles/Defensive Ends With A Draftable Grade:

Chris Wormley, Michigan (6’5″, 298 Lbs.): If you would like to read my report on him from earlier, here is the link: I have watched more of Wormley since this report and I think I am even higher on him now that I was back then. I think he is a guy who can come in right away and play meaningful minutes. I like his versatility and while he may not be an athletic freak, he wins with technique, hand use, and motor, which works well and should translate to the NFL. He may never be considered a great pass rusher, but I think he can put up consistent numbers in that area. Grade: 2nd/3rd round

DeMarcus Walker, Florida State (6’3″, 280 Lbs.): While Walker may not be the athletic freak that many teams want, he has found other ways to win and his college production cannot be overlooked. He combines a quick first step with great snap anticipation to give himself an immediate advantage. He has a relentless nature and a non stop motor to wear down his opponents. He plays with great leverage and balance, consistently getting underneath the pads of opposing offensive lineman. He plays with great awareness and always knows where the ball is. Walker gets his hands up when he is does not get to the QB and has had his fair share of pass breakups. He has very active hands, making it very difficult for offensive lineman to get a solid hold on him. He was a captain and was praised for his leadership skills from both his coaches and teammates. Walker lacks elite athletic traits and may be maxed out physically. He struggles with change of direction and lacks the upper body strength to win with power. He struggles at the point of attack and teams tended to run in his direction. A true tweener that may struggle to find a true position in the NFL. Grade: 2nd/3rd round

Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama (6’3″, 310 Lbs.): While Alabama’s defense was full of playmakers last season, Tomlinson was the straw that stirred the drink. He is a big bodied guy, but not fat. He has long arms and uses them well. Tomlinson did a lot of the dirty work, like tacking on double teams, to allow the guys around him to make plays. He is a smart player who reads and reacts to his opponent quickly. He is very strong and plays with great leverage, making him nearly impossible to move, even when double teamed. He lacks burst and quickness, which limits him to a run stuffing, gap filling Defensive Tackle. Tomlinson has played in a system similar to the Patriots. He has dealt with some injuries in the past and his medicals will be important. Grade: 3rd round

Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova (6’6″, 289 Lbs.): I wasn’t sure exactly where to put TK in my groupings. From a size perspective, you would think he would grow into a Defensive End, but he could also be categorized as an Edge player as well. You just do not see players with his combination of size and athleticism all that often and that right there might get him drafted earlier than most think. He has good lower body flexion to bend the edge and get to the QB. He can cover a lot of ground quickly with his long strides. He uses his long arms well to keep defenders off his pads and does a nice job to disengage and make the tackle. KP has put on a lot of weight and muscle since he arrived at Villanova, but he is still very lean and needs to continue to add mass and strength to hold up in the NFL. He takes to coaching well and is willing to put in the time to get better and stronger. At his size, he struggles to win the leverage battle and needs refinement in his technique. He struggles at the point of attack and setting the edge. He has enticing physical attributes, but his game needs time to develop. Grade: 3rd round

Caleb Brantley, Florida (6’2″, 307 Lbs.): Brantley is an under tackle who is a disruptive force from the interior. He has a great first step at the snap and excellent burst to get after the QB. He consistently wins leverage and can get skinny through the A-gaps. He uses his hands effectively and has a nice variety of pass rush moves. He struggles with power at the point of attack and does not win on a regular basis if he doesn’t win with his first step. Brantley’s motor has been brought into question and you can see he does not always give full effort. Despite his disruptive nature on the field, he did not put up great numbers in College. The Patriots might be scarred off because of another interior pass rusher they drafted out of Florida just a few years back.  Grade 3rd round

Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA (6’3″, 305 Lbs.): Vanderdoes is solidly built from top to bottom, but he is also sneaky athletic. He has quicker feet than you would expect, allowing him to sidestep guards and make plays in the backfield. He plays with good balance and has a very good inside spin move. He has a powerful punch that jolts back his opponent, giving him the space to make plays. He plays with a good motor, showing a willingness to stay engaged with plays that go away from him or are downfield. He has had his fair share of injuries and has not looked as effective since. He does not always carry his weight well, making him less effective. This will have to be monitored throughout his career. Grade: 3rd/4th round

Deatrich Wise, Arkansas (6’5″, 274 Lbs.): Wise fits the body type the Patriots look for in their Defensive Ends. To go along with his frame, he boasts really long arms and huge hands and he uses them well. He extends well, keeping defenders off him and directing them where he wants them to go. He has a good first step and a powerful punch to stun lineman, getting them off balance and out of sorts. He is strong at the point of attack and does a nice job setting the edge. Wise is not a great pass rusher. He lacks the necessary change of direction and lower body flexibility to consistently be effective. His pass rush counter moves are undeveloped and he relies purely on his strength to get pressure on the QB. He is a former teammate of current Patriot Defensive End Trey Flowers and the team may want to go to the well one more time after Flowers has shown to play well above his draft slot so far in his young career. Grade: 4th round

Davon Godchaux, LSU (6’3″, 310 Lbs.): Godchaux was a productive member of a very talented LSU defense. He has very active hands and a good punch to keep opponents off him. He holds his weight well and is an athletic mover. He shows good lateral quickness and balance to slip around offensive lineman. Godchaux holds up well against double teams and is effective clogging gaps against the run. He has an inconsistent first step and lacks variety as a pass rusher from the interior. He is a reliable player with a ton of experience in both a 3-4 and a 4-3. Godchaux has some medical and off field issues that must be vetted. Grade: 6th round

Grover Stewart, Albany State (6’4″, 347 Lbs.): If you have never seen Stewart play, you would think at his dimensions he would be a plug the run type of Defensive Tackle, but you would be wrong. When I found out he weighed almost 350 Lbs. I was floored. I assumed he was in the 315 range. Needless to say, he is very athletic and put together for a guy his size. He has long arms and active hands, but needs to learn to use them both more effectively. Stewart does a nice job of keeping his eyes up and using his long arms to knock down passes when he didn’t get to the QB.  He dominated lower level competition. He showed good power to move offensive lineman back into the QB on a consistent basis. He has a quick first step and was consistently the first guy along the line to move when the ball was snapped. He will play too high at times, making him less effective. He must work on playing with better leverage because he will be making a big jump in competition. He has all the physical and athletic tools to be a regular contributor, but he will need time to adjust to the strength and speed of the NFL. Grade: 6th/7th round

Interesting UDFA Prospects:

Treyvon Hester, Toledo (6’2″, 300 Lbs.)

Jarron Jones, Notre Dame (6’5″, 316 Lbs.)

Adam Butler, Vanderbilt (6’4″, 293 Lbs.)

Collin Bevins, NW Missouri State (6’4″, 286 Lbs.) Went to Iowa State before transferring

Winston Craig, Richmond (6’3″, 288 Lbs.)

Patrick Gamble, Georgia Tech (6’4″, 277 Lbs.)

Doug Webb, Harvard (6’3″, 290 Lbs.)

Rashaad Cowerd, Old Dominion (6’6″, 325 Lbs.)


Final Thoughts:

This Defensive Tackle and base Defensive End class is not great. Luckily for many teams, including the Patriots, the Edge class (which will be coming soon) is chalk full of talent. I sometimes struggle with breaking down these players into a category because many of them are interchangeable, so if you don’t see a player here that you think should be on this list, he may be in with the Edge players.



















63 Responses to “Building The Patriots Big Board: Defensive Line”

  1. Stephen J says:

    Mike Gilislee tweeted stats

    Mike Gilislee somehow had more 20+ yard runs last year than David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell per Gregg Rosenthal

    Of all players with min 10 TDs since 2015, Mike Gillislee’s average TD length of 17.2 yards is second to only….. Adrian Peterson (21.4) per Jamie Parry

  2. Russell says:

    A prospect I like and I think is under the radar, is DE Evan Schwan Penn. State. Nice size at 6’5″ 262 lbs, 4.68 40 yd. 1.68 10 yd. 34 ” arms.
    Schwan is a hard worker on the field with a high motor, and off the field in the weight room. Had a back issue in high school,& ankle injury in College. Interviews well, & is the kind of guy BB would give a chance too. A 6th-7th round prospect, who I feel just has that “it” factor, when thinking about the Patriots scheme.

  3. Stephen J says:

    Per Aaron Wilson

    Patriots’ line coach working out North Dakota center Michael Coe

    Here is Coe’s pro day measurements and times

    • Stephen J says:

      Here are some tweets

      Evan Brennan: @JoshNorris keep an eye on North Dakota OC, Michael Coe. I’ve received interest from higher-ups across NFL due to athleticism/versatility

      Jeff Risdon:I’m wrapping up my quick evals on the likely UDFAs. Best I’ve watched today is North Dakota OL Michael Coe

      Evan Brennan: Just had a NFL OL coach call me and ask C, Michael Coe. They were very high on him. Bust out your North Dakota film now!

      Dane Brugler: Two underrated OL prospects to watch: #MiamiOhio OT Collin Buchanan and #NorthDakota G/C Michael Coe. Both have plenty of fans in the NFL.

    • Stephen J says:

      Patriots were at his Pro Day on Mar 29 as well. He performed the drills with a hurt hamstring according to Evan Brennan(Appears to be His Agent) maybe why they scheduled a workout later

    • Stephen J says:

      Background Video on Michael Coe

    • Russell says:

      Interesting prospect, but 6’1″ seems more like Shaq Mason with out speed. (5.40 40 yd, 1.96 10 yd.)

      • Stephen J says:

        I’m thinking they liked the combination of the broad jump at 9’4″ and the Vertical of 32″ and to an extent the bench of 31 more than the timed speed. The Pats love the broad jump 1st then a some variation of the Vertical Bench then Times and Physical Measurements for some reason. When you look at their players they all have an above average Broad Jump

        ………Joe Thuney….Ted Karras…..David Andrews…Shaq Mason……..Michael Coe
        Vert….28 1/2″………26 1/2″……..30″………………..32″………………32″

        • Russell says:

          That’s a great point, and good info, Thanks !!

        • macspak says:

          broad jump measures explosiveness, which is crucial to an OL/DL success as it reflects initial strength in getting off the ball. Upper body strength also would be important but are secondary to straight line speed and three cone for linemen. IMO.

      • steve earle says:

        Not to concerned about his height (6-1) strength and quickness can achieve leverage on defenders. Wouldn’t mind if he had more speed but if he can mirror vs pass rush and get to second level on running plays I see little problems.

  4. steve earle says:

    Realizing we will loose pick #163 if Bill’s let Gillislee go then my mock needs some work.
    Okay so despairing of getting a 1st and/or 2nd rd picks I’ve come around to this.

    3#72) Tanoh Kpassagnon DE/OLB Vill
    3#92 ) Joe Mathus DE Wash
    4#131) Vincent Taylor DT Okla St.
    5#183) Samson Ebukan OLB E.Wash.
    6#200) Eric Wilson ILB Cinn.
    7#239) Xavior Coleman CB Port. St.

    UDFA List
    Javarius Leamon OT S.Car.St.
    Rasheed Coward DT Old Dem.
    Jylan Ware OT Ala.St.

    • Russell says:

      Not sure about DE Kpassagon, from a smaller program. Maybe a steal, & Mathis is getting look from every team, and I like him, just don’t know if he’s on the board this late.

      • steve earle says:

        You may be right about Mathus and I debated with myself whether I should take him at #72 and TK at 92? As we get closer and the Pro’s mocks set in that may just be the way my final mock will be, not sure just yet.

    • Jim R says:

      All D, I like it. Hard to get a grasp on what would be available. Nice job

      • steve earle says:

        Thanks Jim. Your right about the difficulty deciding who to pick and when. Stephen J has presented us with such an abundance of under the radar prospects it leaves me amazed at the work loads that NFL scouts and pro media types like Mike here have to shoulder to give fans like us the pictures they do of their professions, amazing.
        Thanks Mike!

  5. Stephen J says:

    Joe Mathis posted a video of his Private Workout

    • Stephen J says:

      Great Play here by Joe Mathis stays disciplined doesn’t over pursue, doesn’t lose outside containment, isn’t faked out by one of the fastest players on Oregon’s team WR Charles Nelson.

    • Stephen J says:

      Joe Mathis sheds LT and makes a Tackle for Loss

    • Stephen J says:

      Joe Mathis beats LT with inside move and sacks QB

    • steve earle says:

      I counted 40 reps on the bench but no idea what the weight was. Still impressive! His highlights are too. I have him on my mock at #92 though Russell thinks that may be a little low. I tend to be thinking that also.

      • Stephen J says:

        In all honesty Steve that video was a joke. The Vert was the only legitimate thing on the video. The broad was the next but you never got the results. The times where horrendous when timed from hand. The bench he was bouncing off chest and using momentum that doesn’t count in an actual setting/environment. Now he was looking to be around 250 for this workout I can’t say for certain but it didn’t look like he was. I also heard that he was immature meaning yelling at trainers/coaches in the video you could see where one trainer said that’s not helping or going to help you and yet he ignored it and did it anyways. Now he might not test well but is it that or is it still related to injury. Now he says the combine recheck went well. We may never know that but the NFL will and does. There are a lot of question marks and probably only those in the inner circle will have the answers too. Right now the only thing he has going for him is his tape. I have serious doubts about him even being on the Patriots board at this point but I am just waiting to see how it plays out.

        • steve earle says:

          Wow, that disappointing to hear especially about the treatment of the trainers and coaches. Why haven’t we heard anything about this before I wonder, someone must have known outside the insiders I should think?

        • Stephen J says:

          Steve that is hearsay as of right now and leaves me not knowing what to think or believe but that video didn’t show him in a good light so that is why I am leaving it up to the insiders meaning those that make the draft decisions because they will have a more accurate assessment than I do.

  6. GM-In-Training says:

    Where do we stand after this eventful day?

    Butler signs ERFA. Amendola restructures. Gillislee made an offer. Lengel extended. Jackson waived.

    Moving on from Blount. Got enough WR for 2017. 5 TE for camp. Might be looking for more OG/OC depth. Might not have a 5th rounder due to Gillislee being ERFA.

    I think the Pats are in a pretty good position going into the draft.

    What they really need at this point are quality depth pieces and some spare parts at a few positions to come out of camp with a full compliment of healthy talent for the whole 53, plus PS. Being the Pats, they’re also looking at their needs in 2018.

    Remember, last year the Pats had to make some tough choices to get down to 53 because they had so many good options.
    They were able to miss on some reclamation projects.
    They were able to cut some mid-tier veterans to save cap and get younger.
    They were able to stack their PS (several of their PS players got poached over the season).

    This year, they will be forced to take on a lot of UDFA, or perhaps some veterans who finally come down in their ask. After I think June 1 those veteran FA don’t count against the compensatory draft pick formula.

    I thought it was weird last season that the Pats kept 2 or 3 interior linemen on the PS all season, and almost no OT. Now I’m guessing they think their OT just have to be so talented there’s not much chance of of PS type being worth the bother. Given their track record with OG and OC, it’s possible they might think one of last year’s PS guys could step up.

    What’s all that mean for the draft?

    Same old same old.

    We need another talented, long-armed DE to groom.

    We may or may not need another CB…preferably 6’1″ or more.

    We could use a smart 260# mobile LB who could back up Hightower.

    • Stephen J says:

      Wow Now RB James White signs an extension what a busy day.

    • steve earle says:

      Your thinking looks sound enough at least until Bill comes up with another curve ball for we trying to keep up with the moves. I still have hopes he signs Butler to an extension giving us two all pros at CB. Can you just see other OC’s sweating long into the nights trying to game plan against our Def? Now a DE and an OLB in the draft early, holy smoke!

  7. Stephen J says:

    Interesting Athletic Comparison

    Samson Ebukam………………Haason Reddick
    240 lbs………………………….237 lbs
    1.53……..10 Yard Split……….1.60
    4.34……..20 Shuttle………….4.37
    7.07………3 Cone…………….7.01
    39″……….Vertical…………….36 1/2″
    10’10″(130″) Broad……………11’1″(133″)

  8. Stephen J says:

    One DT no one is talking about that the Pats had in for a visit is Josh Augusta of Missouri

    Here is a play with him #97 2nd one from the top 1st one with hands down

    347 lbs
    5.19 40
    1.81 10 yard split
    28 1/2″ Vert
    9′(108″) Broad
    4.87 20 Shuttle
    7.90 3 Cone
    22 Bench

    Here is a write up with 2 videos

  9. Stephen J says:

    Field Yates reports

    Patriots WR Danny Amendola has agreed to a reduced contract for 2017

  10. Stephen J says:

    Per Ian Rapoport

    Patriots extended an RFA offer sheet to #Bills RB Mike Gillislee. It’s for 2 years, $6.4M, source said. $4M in the 1st year.

    • Stephen J says:

      It’s time to redo those mocks again. Pats will give up a 5th round pick if Bills don’t match and according to Jeff Howe the initial indication is they won’t match but no final decision as of yet

      • steve earle says:

        Yea, okay, if I must, and assuming no 1st or 2nd and that Bowser doesn’t come down then pencil in Tanoh Kpassagnon @ #72. If Tanoh isn’t there then jump all my other picks up one round and add Javarius Leamon in at #7

        • Stephen J says:

          Get the sense with Butler signing his tender that there will be a trade with New Orleans so hold your horses.

          Here is a chart that Rich Hill made up as a reference its based on the idea of getting the value of the 11th pick in the 1st round. Not sure that will be the case but it looks like at least the 32nd with additional picks or possible swap of picks.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      I have to come to the realization that Kareem Hunt is not going to be a Patriot.

    • steve earle says:

      Not yet officially a Patriot but seems likely so. Not sure how I feel about Gillislee he hasn’t set the league on fire just and adequate back up guy. Looks like Blount is looking in if this goes through.

  11. Stephen J says:

    Grover Stewart……..Alan Branch………….Rashaad Coward
    6’4 1/2″……………..6’5 1/2″……………………6’5″
    5.06………………….5.07……………………….5.03………..40 Time
    N/A…………………..1.75……………………….1.70………..10 Yard Split
    26″……………………27 1/2″…………………..26…………..Vertical
    4.76………………….4.79………………………N/A………….20 Shuttle
    7.65………………….7.56………………………N/A………….3 Cone

  12. steve earle says:

    Some good mocks coming out. I’m sticking with the one I did on the 13th which seems pretty reasonable to me. I would only add Javarius Leamon OT, Jylan Ware OT, and Rasheed Coward DT as UDFA’s

  13. Big Dan from Maine says:

    Malik McDowell from Michigan State???? Not seeing any love for him, or are you looking at players that could be available at #72

    • steve earle says:

      Hey Big Dan good to hear from you again. About McDowell I think if we had even a 2nd rd pick he would be in the discussion but the focus of everyone is on 3rd, rd down. Hard to see him falling that far.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      yeah, no sense in writing up a guy who has very little chance of being a Patriot. I really like the player though.

  14. Turbo says:

    Probably my last mock, i feel good about these player so here we go:

    72) Tarrell Basham EDGE
    96) Jake Butt TE
    131) Jamaal Williams RB
    163) Rayshawn Jenkins S
    183) Nate Hairston CB
    200) Marquel Lee LB
    239) Andreas Knappe OT


    Keionta Davis DE
    Keion Adams LB/OLB
    Thomas Sperbeck WR
    Austin Carr WR
    Ezra Robinson CB
    Josh Augusta DT
    Pat Ricard DT
    Javarius Leamon OT
    David Jones S
    James Onwualu LB
    Dalton Crossan RB

  15. Russell says:

    What I’m hearing is; The Patriots are working on a contract offer to Garoppolo that would give him more money this year, to extend his contract by one year. ($ 3.5 mil. this year, & 6.5 mil. next year??? : in stead of $800K this year)
    Second; The Patriots will likely try to draft a QB this year.
    Third ; The Patriots will likely draft , TWO special teams starters, with a future at another position.
    Positions the Patriots likely will NOT draft; WR, K, FB, P, OG.
    Positions the Patriots may double dip; S, DL

    • steve earle says:

      Be great for us if JG extends but how much does he want to play is the key? All the other stuff Sounds reasonable to me, good info. Jumping down to your mock, I’d be very happy with it. Not as solid on Holden as you but he could work out. Overall, well done.

      • Russell says:

        I made a few late picks changes at but I’m mostly set on my draft picks.

  16. Russell says:

    Patriots MOCK Draft;
    #72- DT Davlin Tomlinson, A future replacement for Alan Branch 33.
    #96- S Delano Hill, A future Chung replacement, Special teams guy day one.
    #132- OT Will Holden, With the future in mind, behind Nate Solder.
    # 163- LB Eric Wilson, LB depth, Special teams starter day one.
    #183 – CB Jack Tocho, depth at CB/S, special teams
    # 200 – QB Alex Torgerson, IF Garoppolo is lost to free agency, looking toward the future.
    #239 – DE Evan Schwon 6’5″ 261 lbs.

    Feeling pretty good about this group, and there availiblity. I think an undrafted RB, WR, OL, Edge/LB guys will be signed.
    WR- Jordon WesterKamp
    Edge- Jimmie Gilbert
    OT – Max Rich or Jaylon Ware
    RB – Joe Yearby
    LB – Ben Gedon

  17. Tristan says:

    Patriots Mock Draft
    72 – Zach Banner OT USC
    96 – Carl Lawson DE Auburn
    4th round 131 – Harvey Langi LB BYU
    5th Round 163 – Chuck Clark S/CB Virginia Tech
    5th round 183 – Dalton Crossan RB/WR New Hampshire
    6th round 200 – Austin Carr WR Northwestern
    7th round 239 – Winston Craig DT Richmond

  18. carlo strada says:

    i d like a line of Valentine-Brown-Tomlinson

  19. Russell says:

    I’m leaning toward Tomlinson as Branch”s replacement next year, and he has a better chance to be available. Tomlinson had the chance to go to Harvard, but chose Alabama because of the football program. Tomlinson had a knee issue early in his career in Alabama.

    • steve earle says:

      Agree with you Russell but I think a lot of GM’s ahead of us must see the talent there and how it can improve their D-line. If he comes down to us he would be a great pick.

      • Russell says:

        Wormley & Tomlinson are not known as pass rushers, which I think makes them available to the Patriots, at #72.

        • steve earle says:

          Could be Russell but to be honest I’d prefer Tomlinson of the two as the Branch replacement in a year or two. I’m thinking we can get a pretty good DE in the 3rd rd

  20. Russell says:

    Wormley and Tomlinson, are tied on my draft board. Both are Patriot type players which is hard to describe in detail. One of these guys get picked at #72 . Tomlinson has a wrestler back ground in high school (undefeated). Wormley has better size (6’5″) & speed.

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