Ron Brace: Vince Wilfork's Replacement or 4-3 DT Cohort?
Considering the Vince Wilfork contract situation, the New England Patriots drafted Ron Brace as their second pick in 2009 draft. This pick was a move with eyes on 2010 because although Vince Wilfork went public to say how much he wants to stay, we never really know how much money he really wants.
Asante Samuel pretty much said the same words but still cashed in when the free agency came. So if Vince (who I really love as Pats' NT) and the Patriots don't get on the same page, they have a very able backup in Ron Brace.
Let's see how these two compare with each other.
Here is NFLDraftScout.com's analysis on Ron Brace
Positives: Square-framed, naturally large man. Surprising initial quickness off the snap to disrupt the play before it has a chance to begin. Good lateral quickness to slide down the line. Good use of hands to slap away the blockers' attempts to control him.
Good overall strength, especially in his lower body, to hold up at the point. Can anchor against the double-team and flashes the ability to split. Able to close if given a free lane. Recognizes the action quickly and can slide off the block onto the runner as he goes by. Versatile defender capable of projecting as a zero-, one- or three-technique at the next level.
Negatives: Only "phone booth" quickness. Requires a free lane to close on the quarterback and isn't going to provide significant interior pass rush. Marginal effort and ability in pursuit. Flanked by a better prospect in Raji and often faces only one blocker. Struggled with a recurring back injury in 2008.
Concern over back injury only heightened considering his heavy build and potential to allow his weight to get out of control.
and this is NFLDraftScout.com's take on Vince Wilfork in 2004
Positives: Normal-to-short strider who flashes good speed and a short burst to close...Despite his size, he has the foot quickness and change-of-direction agility to flash power and explosion down the line...Has good functional strength at the point of attack... Shows the arm power and hand usage to create separation, stuff and shed...
Will strike and explode into blockers...Has the raw strength to collapse the pocket and gives a solid second effort to disengage...Displays good desire to get to the passer through his backside pursuit...Has a great motor, getting into the backfield in an instant...Shows the foot speed to stalk the ball carriers turning the corner and the quickness to mirror receivers in the short area passing game...
Has an aggressive nature, doing an excellent job to defeat combo blocks and double teams with forceful rip, swim and club moves... His lateral agility, change-of-direction quickness, low pad level and massive frame could be ideal plugging the middle in a 3-4 defensive alignment.
Negatives: Despite his power, he shows inconsistency when trying to stack, mostly due to his narrow leg base...Short-arms at times, which lets blockers get into his chest too much...Plays too high in his stance due to his soft midsection preventing him from getting down in a three-point...Must be in front of the ball carrier in order to make the tackles, as he lacks the proper arm technique to stalk, wrap and secure...
Lacks good cross face moves needed to get gap penetration and his high stance makes him appear sluggish when combating the low blocks...Good tackler, but his inability to properly extend his arms prevents him from wrapping when tackling
If Vince Wilfork decides not to re-up with the Patriots, Ron Brace would have been schooled for a year in the nose tackle position and the transition in the NT would be a bit easier. Considering the premium of the nose tackle on the 3-4 defense and the difficulty of finding good NTs in the draft, this was a borderline great pick for the Patriots.
But here is one interesting thought, what if Vince Wilfork decides to stay with the Pats and Coach Belichick decides to change to a base 4-3 alignment, wouldn't it be scary to have Vince and Ron side by side? With those two having their hands on the dirt, Jarod Mayo's potential would be totally unleashed, perhaps making him Patriots' version of Ray Lewis or Junior Seau.
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