This camp battle exclusively features defensive tackles. At the top of the depth chart are Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, and Dominique Easley. Siliga is the best player in this group and has performed very well, which made the team comfortable parting ways with Vince Wilfork. Siliga had taken over the nose tackle spot last year, with Wilfork sliding to the 3-tech (Wilfork hasn't played the majority of his snaps at the nose since 2011). His departure still has left a big void that can't be filled with just one player.
For the 2015 season, I do expect to see the Patriots employ a rotation for their defensive line. That means that depth is equally as important as having quality starters. So that means Siliga, Brown, Branch, and Easley are important to the defense's success. Having four solid defensive tackles on the interior is always a good thing to have. That's enough depth to whether through one injury, but there's no guarantee that it will hold strong through the rigors of an NFL season.
Even though most of the defensive line spots are filled up, I believe there is room for a 9th defenlineman on the 53-man roster. I'm not 100% sure how the Patriots plan to use Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom and their active/inactive status on any given Sunday moving forward, so the 9th DL has to be able to play inside and outside in both 3 and 4-man fronts.
Contestants: Zach Moore, Chris Jones
Projected Winner: Zach Moore
Moore's athleticism and length wins out here. I'm not 100% sure what his usage would be inside or outside, but being able to do both effectively is a roster-saver. The added length also plays in the kicking game, on the punt and field goal blocking units. Moore's body type could give the Patriots multiple options for defensive alignments as a 4-3 DE, 4-3 DT, and 3-4 DE. In addition, he could move inside for sub packages. While Easley can also perform those services, it's always good to have a 2nd chess piece on the defensive line in case of injuries.
On paper, the Patriots look very solid on the defensive line with quality players and quality depth. All four defensive tackles listed at the top of this article offer four unique skill sets that Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia can mix and match to produce the best results. Siliga (strong anchor) and Branch (length) are big-bodied gap clogger's that eat up space and collapse the interior. Brown and Easley are gap shooters who can win 1-on-1 matchups with quickness and explosiveness. Brown is about the same listed size as Siliga, but doesn't anchor well vs. Double teams like Siliga and Branch do. That's fine, because that's a skill I think he'll pick up and improve upon quickly. Easley is more of a chess piece that can attack the weak link of the opponent's offensive line. Easley should be close to the form he showed in September 2013, where he was the most difficult block for most SEC OL. At full strength, the DL is the strength of the 2015 Patriots defense.