In the weeks and months leading up to the 2011 NFL Draft, some speculation began to grow (mostly courtesy to Pro Football Talk): could long time Patriots defensive lineman Ty Warren be on the roster bubble?
When I first heard this, I thought it was a little bit ridiculous. Sure, he's scheduled to make $3.1 million this season, but that really is not that much. In 2009, although he was slowed at times by injury, he was still the dominant run stopper he usually was. And although Warren has been around for a while, he's still only 30. I believe he has a few solid years left. He is a role model for the young guys, and is still quite talented. Still, there was speculation. A few weeks ago, Ian Rapoport wrote the following:
At his best, Warren, part of two Super Bowl winning teams, is a run-stopping force. Injuries, however, have hindered him in recent years, with last year being a complete wash due to hip surgery to repair a torn labrum. Now at age 30, Warren may find himself competing to stay on the team if he's once again hampered or slowed by injury problems.
If the Patriots had drafted a defensive lineman in the draft, they would have been pretty crowded at the position with Vince Wilfork, Mike Wright, Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Myron Pryor and the newly signed Marcus Stroud at the top of the depth chart. Nonetheless, the Patriots did not draft a defensive end. And as long as Ty Warren remains healthy, his immediate future with the team remains safe. In fact, I believe he is still the best defensive end on the roster and I think he will represent a major upgrade to the Patriots defense from 2010 (a year in which he missed due to an ailing hip).
And while we're on the topic of Ty Warren, I brought up an idea a couple of months ago that I thought I would revisit. How about lining Ty up at right defensive end? Of course, the brute power and strength that Warren provides against the run makes him the ideal left end. However, he has shown an ability to push to pocket a little bit before, and he has shown some versatility in the past, playing nose tackle at times during his rookie season. Playing Ty at right end would depend on two factors in my opinion. First, would be the development of Ron Brace as a left defensive end and if he outperforms the two right defensive ends on the roster, Mike Wright and Brandon Deaderick. The second, and most obvious, would be Ty's ability to make that transition to the right side.