INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Defensive lineman Justin Francis of Rutgers participates in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
It appears that the Patriots' main focus during the 2012 Draft was to upgrade the defense, specifically the pass rush. On Friday, the team added yet another rookie to the mix to try and rejuvenate what's been a pedestrian pass rush over the last few years.
According to ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, the New England Patriots and undrafted free agent defensive lineman Justin Francis have agreed to terms on a rookie free-agent deal. Francis started all 13 games for the Rutgers in 2011, recording 6.5 sacks and 60 tackles.
Francis (6-2, 268 pounds) seems to have the versatility that Bill Belichick loves to see from his guys in the front seven. He played both at the defensive end and tackle position in college, and has also proven himself to be a solid special teams player. Francis was able to take advantage of his extraordinarily long arms (33 7/8 inches) as he deflected five passes and blocked an unprecedented three kicks last season.
Despite a fantastic senior season, Francis' draft stock wasn't as high as it could have been. He was only a one-year starter at Rutgers, and he was suspended for the entire 2008 season due to an off-campus arrest. If Francis doesn't run into any more trouble and can continue to progress as a player, he could certainly find himself as a part of one of Bill Belichick's defensive sub packages. Not to mention, a down lineman or edge rusher on punts and field goals.