Leading up to the start of the Patriots season, we will be previewing one or two Patriots players per day (counting down from #99), taking a look at their 2010 seasons and projecting what each player might bring to the table in 2011. Feel free to leave your own predictions in the comments section!
Name: Mike Wright
Age/HT/WT: 29 / 6'4" / 295 lbs
Years Pro: 7
2010 Season: Despite playing in just 10 games due to a scary head/neck injury suffered in week 11 against the Colts, Patriots defensive end Mike Wright managed to lead the team in sacks with 5.5. Wright also picked up 14 tackles while starting five games. Early in the season, Wright was featured mainly as the team's right end. However, he saw the majority of his playing time as a defensive tackle in sub-packages.
2011 Projected Role: Next year, Wright will compete with the likes of Ty Warren, Marcus Stroud, Ron Brace, Myron Pryor, Brandon Deaderick, and others along the defensive line. Wright's best skill is as a pass rusher as a defensive tackle in sub-packages. However, Wright has also shown the ability to hold down the fort as a right defensive end in the Patriots base 3-4. In fact, I would argue that he has been underrated in this facet of the game at times in the past. In 2011, I expect Wright to be in the pre-described hybrid DT/DE role that he was in last season. I think he will split starts with Brandon Deaderick, Ron Brace, and potentially Marcus Stroud, and he will also be one of the team's top interior pass rushers.
2011 Projected Stats: 15 games played, 6 games started, 31 tackles, 4.5 sacks
Bottom Line: Spot starter at RDE, top interior pass rusher in sub-packages.