During my re-watch of the Patriots preseason opener against the Saints, one of the things I paid particular attention to was the defensive line play of the Patriots. It seemed that, on a lot of plays, the Patriots used their defensive lineman in more of an attacking role (with the first unit). Not that they didn't have their traditional two-gap roles most of the time, but it just seemed that the defensive line was penetrating the backfield a little bit more than usual.
My thoughts on each defensive lineman after re-watching the game:
Mike Wright, #99: Lined up mostly at right end when the Patriots played their base 3-4. Had a decent game, held up well against double teams. Definitely looks starter material. On passing downs, Wright would often line up inside and shoot the gaps in a pass rushing role.
Vince Wilfork, #75: Vince played his usual nose tackle position and played very well, consistently pushing back double teams and making a few plays.
Gerard Warren, #68: I want to spend a little bit more time talking about Warren. Gerard Warren started in place of Ty Warren at left defensive end. Most of the time, he didn't see too many double teams (although he handled them well when they came to him), and boy did he take advantage of it. For a man of his size, Warren is surprisingly athletic, one some plays he even looked like an edge rusher. He must have gotten at least five quarterback pressures. He abused Jon Stinchcomb, who probably isn't used to facing defensive ends his size. Warren's hand use was also terrific. Surprisingly though, the Patriots took Warren off the field on third downs. I feel that Warren could have an impact there during the season.
Myron Pryor, #91: I also liked what I saw from second year man Myron Pryor. With the 1st defense, Pryor came onto the field in 3rd down and passing situations as a pass rushing nose tackle (lined up over the shoulder of the center and shot the a-gaps). Pryor has a real high motor and will continue to be an important part of the Patriots defensive line rotation in 2010.
Brandon Deaderick, #71: Anyone who read my recap last night will know that I was very impressed with Deaderick. At this point, Deaderick looks to have moved up the depth chart, past the likes of Damione Lewis and Darryl Richard. He lined up at right defensive end, and showed a high motor, good hand use, and good athleticism. He held up well against double teams and got a consistent pass rush. One impressive play came just under the 2 minute mark in the third quarter. Deaderick got a double team, threw the first man off of him, then got under the Saints' guard, drove him back, and managed to make the tackle.
Damione Lewis, #92: Took over Gerard Warren's spot on the 2nd string defense. He played alright, but didn't amaze, and didn't hold up that well against the double teams. He's certainly on the roster bubble right now.
Kyle Love, #74: Love didn't get much playing time, but he seemed to take advantage of what he got. Looked strong, playing some nose tackle in the 4th quarter, getting a nice quarterback rush that forced an incomplete. Consistently pushed upfield against the double team.
Kade Weston, #66: Weston, like Kyle love, didn't see any playing time until the 4th quarter. When he finally got in there, he played the left end spot, which means he is seen more as a run-stuffer than pass rushing option. He showed some good leverage, and kicked inside on the goal line defense.
Darryl Richard, #90: Didn't see much playing time, and didn't show anything great. Had one nice rush up the middle, and got into the backfield on a goal line play Switched off between left and right end (mostly left).
A look at the Patriots current defensive line depth chart after the jump!
With all of this being said, a look at what the Patriots defensive line depth chart currently looks like.
Left Defensive End: 1. Gerard Warren | 2. Damione Lewis | 3. Kade Weston | 4. Darryl Richard
Nose Tackle: 1. Vince Wilfork | 2. Myron Pryor | 3. Kyle Love
Right Defensive End: 1. Mike Wright | 2. Brandon Deaderick | 3. Damione Lewis
** Ron Brace and Ty Warren are both currently out of action (Brace for conditioning and Warren for hip injury)
Analysis: The Patriots seem pretty stocked at the left defensive end position. These are bigger guys that are traditionally the run-stuffing type, as teams typically are geared towards running at the right side. Right now, the locks to make the team appear to be Vince Wilfork, Mike Wright, Ty Warren, Myron Pryor, and Gerard Warren. Brandon Deaderick, Damione Lewis, Kade Weston, Darryl Richard, and Kyle Love are probably fighting for one, maybe two roster spots.
After one preseason game, my defensive line "power rankings"
1. Vince Wilfork
2. Ty Warren (injured)
3. Mike Wright
4. Gerard Warren
5. Myron Pryor
6. Brandon Deaderick
-------- CUT LINE --------
7. Damione Lewis
T-8. Kade Weston
T-8. Kyle Love
9. Ron Brace
10. Darryl Richard