New England Patriots Defensive Depth Chart Wish List
In this slideshow I will be looking at defensive starting positions in the 3-4 and 4-3 scheme.
I will only be doing the cornerbacks, safeties, and linebackers in the 3-4 because it will be the same minus one linebacker, and we all already know who the clear starter is in the 4-3 scheme.
Starting with the 3-4 scheme first because Bill Belichick tends to use it the most.
Vince Wilfork is one of the best NTs in the game, if not the best already. He takes on countless double-blocks and still holds the line.
A big loveable guy, but on the field his demeanor switches and he becomes a big ugly.
Left Defensive End
Ty Warren is not much of a pass rusher but is stiff against the run and can hold down the line.
Right Defensive End
Myron Pryor stands at 6'1" and 310 lbs. Not the tallest defensive lineman, but being shorter gives him leverage in rushing the passer. Pryor also has more bulk than Mike Wright (295 lbs.) and should have a good sophomore season.
Remember this is a wish list, not a projection/prediction, so most likely Wright will be starting.
Left Outside Linebacker
With Adalius Thomas' failed stint with the team, Tully Banta-Cain will have to man his spot as the team's best pass rushing linebacker.
Banta-Cain never amounted to anything with the 49ers, but when he came back to us he started getting a lot more sacks.
I believe someone wrote an article not too long ago titled "The False Aptitude of Bill Belichick." What a moron—if Banta-Cain's producing sacks again under BB isn't a signature of BB's genius football aptitude, then I question that author's sanity.
Right Outside Linebacker
This all depends on if Jermaine Cunningham can learn Belichick's complex defense and get used to the NFL speed in games. Can't wait till preseason to see what this guy can do.
Cunningham got a lot of sacks in college as a defensive end and plays on a high motor. He also stood up in college and should be able to drop back in coverage. Has the size at 6'3" and 266 lbs. to play outside linebacker.
Remember this is a wish list and not a projection/prediction, so the most likely starter will be Derrick Burgess. :(
Jerod Mayo is very instinctive and can lay the hit stick when he pleases. He is good in coverage and can be effective on the blitz. He was injured last year but came back strongly from his injury.
Second Middle Linebacker
Brandon Spikes is not the fastest guy on the field but is very instinctive and can also stuff the run. Tedy Bruschi never had a fast 40-yard time either but made his living in the NFL by making plays and being around the ball.
Spikes seems pretty smart and should be able to learn the playbook and adapt to BB's scheme.
Gary Guyton doesn't do that well in run support, which is why I like Spikes as the favorite. Guyton is better suited to obvious passing downs, where he can utilize his speed and coverage skills.
Again, this is a wish list and not a projection or prediction, so the likely starter will be Gary Guyton. :(
Leigh Bodden is not considered by many to be among the elite CBs in the game, but he gets the job done. Bodden is instinctive and gets interceptions. He can also tackle, which helps the defense by not letting plays get to the second level.
Darius Butler played very well in his rookie campaign, starting five games and recording 35 tackles, eight pass deflections, three interceptions, and one defensive touchdown that he took off an interception for 91 yards to the house.
Butler also played on special teams last year, but that should be taken over by rookie Taylor Price or Brandon Tate.
Again, this is a wish list and not a projection/prediction, so the likely starter will be Jonathan Wilhite. :(
Brandon Meriweather plays strong safety, but I believe that he would be better suited for free safety because he shows good instincts in coverage.
The only knock on Meriweather is that he has not bulked up since being in the NFL and is still 5'11", 200 lbs., which is small for a strong safety (sorry Bob Sanders—you are tiny).
Meriweather makes some big plays in coverage, and that was evident last season when he recorded nine pass deflections, five interceptions, and one defensive touchdown that he made off an interception for 56 yards.
Again, this is a wish list and not a projection/prediction, so the likely starter will be Brandon McGowan. :(
Some people are down on Patrick Chung, but I think he is smart, fast, and physical. He played well on special teams last year and showed his mean streak—Chung was covering the Colts' gunner Chad Simpson and put him on his butt not once, but twice.
Last season Chung recorded 37 tackles, two sacks, one pass deflection, and one interception while barely seeing the field with so many safeties on the team.
Again, this is a wish list and not a projection/prediction, so the likely starter will be Meriweather playing at his same position. :(
Again, I will not be doing cornerbacks, safeties, and linebackers in this scheme because it will all be the same. Mayo is the clear starter in the 4-3, so no need to go through all this again.
Now let's get to the front four!
Left Defensive End
In a 4-3 scheme Warren would be blitzing off the edge, and it would be fun to see him bull rush right tackles because he is not much of a finesse rusher.
Right Defensive End
At 295 pounds Mike Wright is better suited for the 4-3 scheme and would be a perfect fit for the 4-3 defensive end. Wright is a good pass rusher and good tackler.
No change here—can't replace this big guy's shoes.
Second Defensive Tackle
Ron Brace stands at 6'3" and 330 lbs. Paired with Wilfork in the 4-3, I would guarantee that no running back would run through the middle of our defense with 655 pounds in the middle of it.
Brace and Wilfork would be a nightmare for any offensive line because you can only double-block one of them, and then once they do there will be a 320-plus defensive behemoth running around in their backfield.
Again, this is a wish list and not a projection/prediction, so the likely starter will be Damione Lewis.
Nickel Corner: Jonathan Wilhite
Likely Starter: Darius Butler
Dime Back: Devin McCourty
Likely Starter: Terrence Wheatley