The New England Patriots love versatility in their defenders because it allows Bill Belichick to dream up wacky schemes to keep opposing offenses on their toes.
At defensive back, Belichick likes his corners to be savvy enough to switch between zone and man coverage, and to be able to disguise their looks to confuse opposing quarterbacks.
At linebacker, Belichick likes his linebackers to be able to cover in the flat, to stuff the run up the middle, and to rush the quarterback on blitzes.
At defensive line, Belichick wants his linemen hefty enough to eat blockers if there's a mobile quarterback, and open lanes for the linebackers to make plays.
This is a gross oversimplification, but the point stands: Belichick wants his players to offer as much flexibility, versatility, and utility as possible. And 2014 6th round pick Zach Moore is more than willing to learn and grow.
According to the Providence Journal's Mark Daniels, Moore expects to report to camp at 290 pounds, far greater than the 270 he weighed at the combine. With the log jam at edge defender, as Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich are joined by veteran signing Jabaal Sheard, and by rookies Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers, Moore needed to find a way to distinguish himself.
The defensive line is split up into three main categories of players. There are the aforementioned edge defenders, who can play outside in 3-4 and 4-3 base packages, and they're also able to kick inside on NASCAR packages to rush the quarterback. There are the space eating defensive tackles, like the massive 350-pound Alan Branch, the 325-pound Sealver Siliga, and the 320-pound rookie Malcom Brown.
And then there are the tweeners- the players who weigh between 285-300 pounds. They're not as stout as the big guys, and they're not as quick and explosive as the edge defenders. Yet there's a definite role on the team for these "mid-sized" defensive tackles, as they're the players expected to penetrate from the tackle position.
The edge defenders and space eaters are mostly considered locks. The depth at this tweener position is far less certain.
There's sophomore Dominique Easley, who is a roster lock, at 6'2, 285 pounds. He's a lock. Behind that, there's Belichick's favorite Chris Jones at 6'1, 295 pounds and practice squad Joe Vellano at 6'2, 300 pounds.
If you were a player trying to make the roster, which position of depth would give you the best chance of making the team? He's not going to beat out the talent on the edge, and he lacks the size to be a space eater.
Easley was a special player in his limited snaps last season because of the versatility he offered. He played literally every spot on the defensive line, from nose tackle in sub packages, to defensive end in the 4-3 against the Colts while Chandler Jones was injured.
Moore will have to offer the same flexibility and he's already on the right track by adding that weight. At 290 pounds, Moore will offer the mentality and explosive nature of an edge rusher, with the size of a defensive tackle, and he'll have to work towards earning the trust of the coaches. If Moore can make it work, then he'll have a much better time of making the roster, and Belichick will have one more versatile defender in his tool chest.