Player Name: DE/OLB Derrick Burgess
Experience: 9 Years in the NFL, 1 with the New England Patriots
Past Role: Burgess was a DE for most of his career, but was transformed into the elephant DE/OLB position for the Patriots 3-4 defense. He was never really asked to drop into coverage because it was his first season in the 3-4 defense; he was still learning the style. About halfway through the season, Burgess finally got a hang of the defense and was able to apply consistent pressure in the backfield. In the final couple weeks of the season Burgess was able to be a solid contributor on the Patriots defense, which earned him a call back for another year.
Predicted Role: Look for more of the same from Burgess. With Adalius Thomas off the team, I believe the Patriots will employ more 3-4 looks with an elephant linebacker in order to have a player whose job is to solely get in the opposing backfield. If Burgess can continue the hot streak he ended 2009 with, the Patriots could have a formidable defense. While Burgess is a contributing member of the defense, look for rookie Jermaine Cunningham to learn his role on the team from Burgess.
Predicted Season Numbers: 10 Games Started, 16 Games Played. 40 Tackles, 7 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles.
Predicted Depth Chart: #1 DE/OLB
Summary: Burgess will be a contributing member of the defense until Cunningham is ready to be a full member of the defense. In the mean time, Burgess will continue his heat streak and be a solid defender.