Now that the early free agency buzz has worn off, we’re going to be hearing more and more about the NFL Draft and the prospects that the Patriots are interested in. One need area the Patriots have yet to address in free agency is a sub-package pass rusher that can help take some of the workload off of veterans Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones.
In fact, the Patriots may be looking to add such a player early in the draft. According to SB Nation’s own Dan Kadar, first round pass rushing prospect Dee Ford will visit with the Patriots:
Talked with Dee Ford today. He has upcoming workouts/meetings set with the Patriots and Buccaneers.— Dan Kadar (@MockingTheDraft) March 18, 2014
Kadar talked about it further in the Mocking the Draft podcast.
Ford, an Auburn product, is a bit undersized at 6’2” and 252 lbs, but would seemingly be a great fit as a sub-package defensive end. He’s an athlete with great explosiveness who is also very fluid and could theoretically drop in coverage and perhaps play some linebacker as well.
While defensive end may not seemingly be the Patriots number one need, with the league now passing more than ever, it may be just as important to have three good defensive ends as it was to have two of them not even five years ago. The presence of Ford or a player of a similar caliber would allow the Patriots to get creative in some sub-packages (perhaps slide Chandler Jones in at DT) and would also help both Jones and Ninkovich stay fresh.