Over the past four years, the linebacker and pass rusher positions have been emphasized fairly heavily in the early rounds by the New England Patriots. Starting in 2010, five of the team's 12 picks in the first two rounds have been split between the two positions (Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins) as the position has been rebuild. Could the team continue to emphasize their defensive front seven early in 2014? Greg Knopping of Pats Pulpit believes so.
|29. Patriots||Dee Ford, Auburn||DE||6'2||252||SR|
"Heading into this draft, the Patriots have a variety of moderate needs, but not a whole lot of pressing ones. This will allow them to sit back at the No. 29 pick, and really select the best fit/player available for their team. One position the Patriots would like to fill is that of a third defensive end. The Patriots have two starters firmly entrenched at the position in Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones. Both of those players played more than 98 percent of the defensive snaps in 2013, and both could be more productive with some added snaps. Enter Ford. The Auburn product is long, super athletic and would be an immediate fit in sub-packages as a pure rusher. He'd allow Ninkovich to be used more effectively on first and second downs, and could allow the Patriots to get creative with some three-end packages (where Jones would slide in at tackle)."
Dan Kadar, our acclaimed NFL Draft analyst, has some thoughts and opinions to share on the Patriots' mock draft pick of Ford:
While a player like Dee Ford would give the Patriots some intriguing pass rush options, he seems like somewhat of a luxury choice. He would give them some needed depth at end, but someone like Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix would provide a better every-down option in the middle. New England got by last season with players like Chris Jones and Joe Vellano while Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly were injured. Nix would make New England less reliant on that hodgepodge group while a depth pass rusher could be found later in the draft.
|12||Louis Nix||DT||Notre Dame||6'2||326|
|26||Jimmie Ward||S||Northern Illinois||5'11||193|
|1||29||New England Patriots||Dee Ford||DE||Auburn|
|2||62||New England Patriots|