New England Patriots: 5 Young Defensive Players Ready to Make an Impact

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New England Patriots: 5 Young Defensive Players Ready to Make an Impact

Six years have passed since the New England Patriots last hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy in 2004. Much of the veteran defensive core of the Super Bowl era have since departed.

Players like Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, and Ty Law are names of the past and their departures have given rise to much discussion concerning the age and experience of the Patriots' defense. 

Bill Belichick and his staff have made a concerted and noticeable effort in recent years to replace these players despite their seemingly irreplaceable roles.

Vince Wilfork was brought in to fill the role of Ted Washington, Jerod Mayo was selected to take over for Bruschi, and Devin McCourty was drafted following Asante Samuel's departure.

Slowly yet surely New England has reconstructed its defensive core with strategic drafting techniques and while many of their recent picks have progressed into starters with some entering prominent leadership roles there remains yet another crop of youngsters ready to join them. 

Here's a look at five young defensive players ready to step up and make an impact with the Patriots in 2011.

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