Patriots' Defense: Kyle Love the Ying to Vince Wilfork's Yang

Aaron DodgeAnalyst IFebruary 15, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16:   Kyle Love #74 of the New England Patriots celebrates a sack in the first half against the Dallas Cowboys on October 16, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Prior to the start of the 2011 season you may not have even known the name Kyle Love, and you would have been in good company.

The 25-year-old made the team as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State as a rookie. As Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com points out, Love failed to even make the cut in Pro Football Weekly's draft preview that season. He only came in as the 93rd rated defensive tackle prospect by another draft analyst Web site.

Skip right on ahead and two seasons later the NFL Network Playbook crew is dropping tons of praise on Love, naming him, among other things, one of the most improved defensive tackles in the league.

Love and (Vince) Wilfork played well off of one another. When offenses tried to double-team Wilfork,  Love made them pay with his ability to win at the point of attack and disengage from blockers with his hands. In 2011, Love finished with 33 tackles (20 solo) and three sacks.

His numbers certainly won't jump off the stat sheet at you, but his playing time sure should. Operating largely out of the position and role once filled by Wilfork, Love played 50.5 percent of the defensive snaps for the New England Patriots in 2011.

That jump was up from just 13.7 percent during his rookie campaign and it was good enough to rank him first amongst his defensive teammates with a snap increase of 36.8 percent.

Interested in reading more by this Featured Columnist? Check out more of Aaron Dodge's work on Bleacher Report.

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