Patriots Puzzle Pieces: 3rd Down Defense

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IApril 9, 2008

Following the look at the base defense starters, NE Patriots Draft will now project the starters for the third-down defense, including nickel, dime, "frisco", and "cali" packages.


Defensive Line


Saying Vince Wilfork isn't a prototypical pass-rusher is an understatement. On obvious passing situations on third down, Jarvis Green and Mike Wright will often replace Wilfork.

Seymour will move inside if Green comes in, and stay outside if Wright enters the game. Green really emerged as a sack artist during the past two seasons, posting an average of seven during limited playing time. Expect Warren and Seymour to man the trenches if Belichick only calls for two down-linemen.



When the Patriots employ their nickel defense with the "frisco,” or three down-linemen front, Rodney Harrison moves to linebacker. Expect Victor Hobson, who is better in a short zone than Bruschi, to join Rodney inside. 

Bruschi will still see some action at times while Adalius Thomas and Mike Vrabel will be rushing from the edge. When switching to the dime, Hobson will rotate out for our nickel cornerback, who will be Fernando Bryant or a player who has yet to be drafted.

Pierre Woods could develop into a Tully Banta-Cain mold where he becomes an edge-rusher to spell Thomas and Vrabel, and would be a perfect fifth linebacker for the 2-5 "cali" package.


Defensive Backs

With Harrison at linebacker, Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders will provide over-the-top support for Ellis Hobbs and Bryant.

Most people to expect the Patriots to address the cornerback position often during the draft, and if that is the case, the Patriots’ brass would hope the newcomer will be able to start and push Bryant into the nickel/dime role. When Rodney stays at safety, expect Meriweather to man the nickel duty, with Sanders at free safety.