The Patriots fans have to come to terms with the situation at their favorite team sooner rather than later. The New England defensive start list is quite packed and there are chances that new Patriots players will be selected in the initial rounds of the NFL Draft. This could mean that a new player will be taking up a first-team spot in the already packed team. Even if that does not happen, there is already enough players at the back. The roster features several players who are all looking to make the first team.
If Bill Belichick, the head coach, decides to pick a new player in the 2018 Draft, then the defensive line of the team will have a very interesting look. For starters, it is a well-established fact that the Patriots prefer a nickel defense format. This means that Patrick Chung, Stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, and Eric Rowe or Jason McCourty all have a chance of being in the initial lineup.
Moving to the front, the situation will be determined by different factors altogether. Taking into account their preferences in the previous season, the most likely players to be on the start list will include Kyle Van or Dont'a at the linebacker position. Derek Rivers, Elandon Roberts, or Erice Lee could fill up the rest of the back.
The specific arrangement at the back will depend on what position Roberts, Lee, and Rivers will take. These three players plus Van Noy and Hightower will determine whether the team will have a quick athletic lineup or a back full of big players.
The ideal situation that the Patriots hope for is where Rivers would be among the starting defensive lineup. This is likely to happen even though he is not exactly in the best shape as a result of an injury. Going for a back full of huge players would mean a compromise of speed.
There is also a third plausible option where the Patriots could opt for a defense-centric lineup. If this option is to be taken, then the defensive end will be augmented by adding Adrian Clayborn or Deatrich Wise. Rivers would also be an option in this instance.
Clayborn has previously been with the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Much of his clout has however been earned outside these two teams.
As for Wise, he has a lot of prospects to do more this year as he is now much more experienced. The defensive end position would probably be a big shoe to fill for Rivers, but he cannot be ruled out of the equation.
While it is very early on in the season, we can anticipate Hightower, Brown, Flowers, Van Noy, Devin McCourty, Gilmore, Harmon, and Chung to be part of the starting team. This would mean that only about three spots remain.
Jason McCourty and Eric Rowe will have to contend for a spot. This will also play out with Shelton and Guy. The remaining spot will be filled by anyone who impresses the coach throughout the season.
Why does everyone keep giving the Patriots exactly what they need for late draft swaps?— Dave Brown (@ThatDaveBrown) March 19, 2018