After looking up statistics for players drafted around Patriots OLB Jermaine Cunningham, I decided to check out on the 2009 version: defensive lineman Ron Brace. Looking back at the 2009 draft, Ron Brace seems to be the head scratching selection out of the bountiful second rounder group of Brace, Pat Chung, Darius Butler and Sebastian Vollmer. Three of those player seem well on their way to stardom- and then there's Brace.
What's up with him?
Let's look at the defensive tackles drafted in the 2009 draft and see how Brace compares. Is he really doing so poorly? Should we give him a break? Is he ready to have a breakout 2010 season? I want to find out.
Read more after the jump!
Just like with Cunningham, I'm going to make a list of defensive tackles. Keep in mind that the general ratio of NT to DT is 1:1, while the ratio of 3-4 DE: 4-3 DE is 2:3. I'll try and specify what position each player plays.
9th Overall: B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers, 3-4 NT - Starter, 27 Tackles (21 solo, 6 assist), 2 Sacks, 1 Pass Defended
24th Overall: Peria Jerry, Atlanta Falcons, 4-3 DT - Substitute Player, 2 Tackles (1 solo, 1 assist)
32nd Overall: Ziggy Hood, Pittsburgh Steelers, 3-4 DE - Substitute Player, 9 Tackles (6 solo, 3 assist), 1 Sack, 2 Passes Defended
40th Overall: Ron Brace, New England Patriots, 3-4 DE/NT - Substitute Player, 9 Tackles (7 solo, 2 assist)
56th Overall: Fili Moala, Indianapolis Colts, 4-3 DT - Substitute Player, 12 Tackles (7 solo, 5 assist)
62nd Overall: Sen'Derrick Marks, Tennessee Titans, 4-3 DT - Substitute Player, 14 tackles (8 solo, 6 assist), 1 Sack, 1 Pass Defended
67th Overall: Alex Magee, Kansas City Chiefs, 3-4 DE - Substitute Player, 8 Tackles (6 solo, 2 assist), 2 Sacks
68th Overall: Jarron Gilbert, New York Jets, 3-4 DE/NT - Practice Squad, 1 Tackle (1 solo)
72nd Overall: Terrance Knighton, Jacksonville Jaguars, 4-3 DT - Starter, 47 Tackles (35 solo, 12 assist), 2 Sacks, 1 Pass Defended, 1 Forced Fumble
81st Overall: Roy Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4-3 DT - Starter, 35 Tackles (28 solo, 7 assist), 2 Sacks, 1 Pass Defended
103rd Overall: Darell Scott, St. Louis Rams, 4-3 DT - Substitute Player, 19 Tackles (18 solo, 1 assist)
113rd Overall: Vaughn Martin, San Diego Chargers, 3-4 DE - Substitute Player, 5 Tacklers (4 solo, 1 assist)
205th Overall: Ra'Shon Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers, 3-4 DE - Practice Squad, 2 Tackles (1 solo, 1 assist)
207th Overall: Myron Pryor, New England Patriots, 3-4 NT/DE - Substitute Player, 22 Tackles (12 solo, 10 assist), 0.5 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble
210th Overall: Vance Walker, Atlanta Falcons, 4-3 DT - Substitute Player, 14 Tackles (8 solo, 6 assist), 2 Passes Defended
234th Overall: Darryl Richard, New England Patriots, 3-4 DE/NT - Practice Squad/Injured Reserve
244th Overall: Ricky Jean-Francois, San Francisco 49ers, 3-4 NT - Substitute Player, 1 Tackle (1 assist)
So let's look at the numbers to see...not much. Our own Myron Pryor has actually posted some of the best defensive tackle numbers in this entire draft class. Looking at Ron Brace, we see that he's in just about the same place as the two players drafted before him and the four players drafted after him. Brace is actually going to be one of the more successful defensive tackles of this draft if he continues to be one of the first substitutes off the Patriots bench.
Now Ron Brace still has no excuse for failing the physical test at the beginning of training camp, but he has never been a "burner" of a defensive player. He's a strong player built perfectly for the 2 gap defense and is the perfect back-up for every defensive line position. Expect to see Brace in more 4-3 sets, where he excels, but he's also able to sub in for Gerard Warren when the old man needs a break.
Now should we want more from Brace? Absolutely. I want him to challenge Ty Warren for a starting spot next year. But should we panic? Not just yet. Defensive linemen usually take a couple of years to mature and Brace is on that trajectory. He's not beating the curve by any means, but he's definitely not behind.
Regardless of how Brace compares to his draftmates, I hope Brace steps up and puts up numbers to lead the class- somewhere in the region of Myron Pryor.