Name: Will Sutton
School: Arizona State
Size: 6'0, 305 lbs
Expected Round: 1st/2nd, top 40
Strengths: Great at penetrating into the backfield. Able to get skinny to cut between blockers, although was better as a junior when he weighed ~20 lbs less. Improved his strength and faced double teams for the majority of time as a senior. Extremely disruptive. Plays through to the whistle and will make plays on wide receivers down the field. Has an explosive final step. Plays all along the line. Has a bull rush, swim move. Improved as the season wore on, plays the full 60 minutes without taking plays off. In spite of his aggression, does an outstanding job of sniffing out screens.
Weaknesses: Can over-pursue into the backfield and opponents can use his aggression against him (think Brandon Spikes). Needs to improve his ability to disengage from his blocker with more consistently violent arms. Ends up on the ground far too often. Needs to learn to play with his weight. Inconsistent with his gap maintenance. Not the ideal size for a defensive tackle.
What is their role? Sutton steps in as a potential starter at defensive tackle in the 4-3. He won't be an heir to Vince Wilfork as his game is entirely different, but he could be a great complement. Sutton plays a penetrating role, similar to Chris Jones, and would need to be on the field with a larger, space eating body. Could start his career as primarily a passing set lineman.
Will it change from year 1 to year 2? If he can learn better gap awareness, he could be a fit in the Patriots defense. If Belichick is fine with allowing Sutton to break into the backfield (similar to Spikes), then he could actually play the majority of snaps as a rookie. From year 1 to year 2, Sutton needs to become much more consistent to be a reliable every down defensive lineman.
How many downs can he play? He can be a three/four down player for Week 1. He can pressure the quarterback like the best of them and he has potential to make a big play on first down, which would earn him snaps. He also provides special teams value.
Which current player will he beat out? Chris Jones, Joe Vellano, Seaver Siliga, Isaac Sopoaga, Armond Armstead. Sutton plays a different game than Vellano, Siliga, and Sopoaga, but the health of Wilfork could earn Sutton one of their roster spots. Sutton could beat out Jones for starting time on the defensive line next season, although Jones is certainly playing himself into a key role. Armstead isn't guaranteed a roster spot and Sutton could/should beat him straight up.
What’s his ST value? Sutton was a punt protector for Arizona State, and provided value as a lineman on punt returns.
Does he have positional versatility? Sutton played all along the defensive line of Arizona State, as 3-4 defensive end and nose tackle, and 4-3 defensive tackle and defensive end. His most comfortable and disruptive position is at 4-3 defensive tackle lining up as the 3-tech against the right guard.
Why the Patriots? New England needs plenty of help on the defensive line, although it's mostly due to injury. Sutton was one of the most impressive players in the country as a junior and grew as an overall player his senior year. The Patriots pass rush up the middle has been lackluster and Sutton is perfect for that role. While he still has plenty of work needed to be done to become an elite every-down player, he is a day one contributor that complements the current defensive line.
Why not the Patriots? Sutton enters a position that might not as big of a need as the other defensive tackle spot. With Chris Jones playing well enough and Armond Armstead taking a redshirt year, the Patriots might opt to look towards finding WIlfork's heir instead of another cohort. Additionally, while Sutton played every position on the defensive line at Arizona State, he doesn't provide the desired height Belichick desires in his defensive tackles.
Verdict: Sutton comes in with a similar size to Kyle Love, so it's not unheard of for someone of his size to succeed in the Patriots defense. Sutton also added weight and faced double teams all year, and there was a clear learning curve with both his size and the adversity. Given his improvement over his senior year, Sutton could definitely continue to improve while holding his weight, or even lose 5 pounds and play at 300 and regain some of his explosion. Sutton comes with a proven skill set, as well as some upside, and could definitely help out the Patriots defensive line. It wouldn't be too surprising Sutton falls out of the first and the Patriots trade down to grab him in the early second. That said, I don't believe Sutton fills too crucial of a need and the Patriots will probably look elsewhere.