The New England Patriots have invested heavily in their defensive line, using four consecutive first round picks on players with experience on the defensive line of scrimmage. Rising sophomore Dominique Easley might be the most intriguing of them all.
Easley was a top 10 prospect, but suffered a torn ACL that dropped him down the draft boards. He played sparingly as a rookie, and ultimately was placed on the injured reserve to rest his knees. While Easley didn't sustain any structural damage to his knees as a rookie, he was clearly still getting his sea legs.
The defensive lineman is extremely versatile and will be a large part of the defensive plan for the Patriots. He believes he'll be able to suit up from day one.
"I'll be ready for training camp," Easley said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "I'm still in the rehab process, kind of. I'm running and everything."
Listen to the audio of the interview below
The host continued and asked about DeflateGate and its potential impact on the team. Easley expressed that the team believes "everything will be taken care of." But in case Tom Brady's appeal doesn't turn out the way the team plans, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has Easley's full support.
"He always wants to learn," Easley said of the Patriots back-up quarterback. "He's always open to getting better. He always tries to be ahead of everybody. He's a great person to follow behind."
When asked if he thought DeflateGate would either be a distraction, or would add fuel to the Patriots fire a la 2007, Easley toed the company line.
"Our team is going to be at the top level," Easley noted. "Because that's how Bill trains us to be. Regardless of what goes on, we have one goal."
If Easley can continue to grow into his sophomore year, the defensive lineman is certainly going to have an impact on the Patriots achieving that goal.