I was speaking with @ThePaulSwanson over Twitter and we were discussing how the Patriots should address the defensive tackle position. I was talking about how the Patriots need to address the position in the draft with an elite player, when he pointed out that there are 9 defensive tackles currently on the Patriots roster and none of them could really be counted on.
So how would bringing a rookie into the mix affect everything? Wouldn't that just be adding another question mark into a logjam of questions?
Vince Wilfork (1) and Tommy Kelly (2): how do these aged veterans rebound from their season-ending injuries? History is definitely against them having a positive impact even if they were healthy. Coming back from an injury? Who knows.
Isaac Sopoaga (3): When does he get cut?
Sealver Siliga (4): He performed extremely well down the stretch, but how does he hold up for a full season? How is his role affected by the return of Wilfork and everyone else?
Armond Armstead (5): Full of promise, sure, but we know literally nothing about how he will play when he takes the field.
Joe Vellano (6) and Chris Jones (7): Both performed admirably as rookies forced into a role far greater than their abilities. They proved they deserve to be in the NFL, but neither elevated themselves into being anything more than a role player. They can't be counted on for a second straight season.
Cory Grissom (8) and Marcus Forston (9): Neither proven in the NFL, both generally expected to be role players, or practice players. Forston hasn't been able to break through after two seasons, while Grissom is as unknown as Armstead.
So how does a rookie fit in? They can take the player with the hopes they'll eventually develop into an elite starter. Or maybe they'll be an elite starter on day one. But that's just another question mark that will be brought in with hopes they'll succeed.
Instead, what about the idea of bringing in a proven prospect? What about the Patriots addressing the position via free agency? They'll still have Siliga, Armstead, Jones, and Vellano waiting in the wings as youth prospects, but this veteran can come in and play are the lone answer until these players start answering their own questions.
Pro Football Focus lists their top DT prospects. So does Rotoworld. There are more than ten players who could come in for little money and play either as a bridge role for the young players to gain their sea-legs, or a legitimately viable starting option.
I know this is unpopular. There's a ton of elite defensive tackles who could be the long term answer for the Patriots. But perhaps the Patriots are more looking for an immediate answer to their outstanding questions.
Maybe that has to come in free agency.