New England Patriots: Why Darren Sharper Will Greatly Boost the Defense

Connor GreeneContributor IAugust 16, 2011

NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 24:  Darren Sharper #42 of the New Orleans Saints in action during the game against the Cleveland Browns at the Louisiana Superdome on October 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Yesterday, the Patriots worked out veteran safety Darren Sharper. The signing of Sharper could mean big things are coming for the Patriots' secondary.

Sharper had an injury-plagued season last year with the Saints, playing in only eight games. But he's a proven playmaker and will be the leader in any team's secondary, just what the Patriots need.

In 2009, Sharper had a career year with an impressive nine interceptions and 15 passes defended. He also knows what to do once he has the ball, scoring 11 career defensive touchdowns and  averaging 42 yards per interception return in 2009.

Only two years removed from his best season, I believe Sharper will return to his stellar form once again. He's one of the NFL's top ball-hawks and you can always count on him to be in position to make a play.

With Sharper in the free safety position, this means two-time Pro Bowler Brandon Meriweather would be on the bench. To most, this doesn't make much sense: Why sit a younger star to make room for a veteran who's on his way out? But watch enough Patriots games, and you'll see why.

Meriweather is frustrating to watch. He's a very aggressive safety who takes horrible angles, misjudges many balls and gets burned for long receptions all the time. His tackling skills are just not good enough and way too aggressive. He always goes for the risky big hit instead of the safe wrap-up.

Meriweather also has a problem with helmet-to-helmet hits, putting two on Todd Heap in a game last year, which cost him $50,000. Sharper's smart plays will eliminate many of the problems Meriweather brought to the Patriots last year.

Sharper also brings his leadership to the young patriots secondary, a leader they desperately need. With young players like Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Meriweather, rookie Ras-I Dowling and second-year safety Sergio Brown in the secondary, there really isn't a veteran leader or role model helping them out.

Sharper also brings his Super Bowl experience to share with these young players come the playoffs. His on-field play combined with his veteran presence will be a great asset to the Patriots.