I swear this has nothing to do with the New England Patriots losing on Monday night, but it’s now that time of the year where 2018 NFL Mock Drafts start to gain more traction. Teams are starting to be eliminated from the postseason and naturally there’s a rise in attention about the draft.
So while Patriots fans aren’t yet concerned about draft prospects, there is a pass rusher that should be on their radar according to ESPN’s Todd McShay.
Ben Banogu, DE/OLB, TCU
Bill Belichick loves to collect versatile edge defenders, and Banogu fits the bill. A former transfer from Louisiana Monroe, he didn't get much national attention this season but was always around the ball on the tapes I studied and was highly productive (15.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks).
The 6’3, 245 pound Banogu comes with a lot of experience in Texas Christian’s 4-2-5 defensive front, which is similar to what the Patriots operate and involves him playing both with his hand in the dirt and standing up. He recorded 8.5 sacks and a team-high 15.5 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles in his first year of eligibility after transferring. On paper he’s a great fit with what the Patriots like to do on the edge.
On the other hand, do the Patriots really need another player with Banogu’s physical make-up? Belichick likes his true 4-3 defensive ends to be 260 pounds or heavier, which would project Banogu to be more like the Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Shea McClellin, Trevor Reilly, and Harvey Langi role as the edge player in an odd-man front.
Since I named literally a handful of players already in that position, I’m not sure drafting another one in the first round makes too much sense.
And even Banogu added weight to play on the edge, he would join Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers (remember him?), Adam Butler, Eric Lee, and Geneo Grissom, along with Keionta Davis. The first three are the only players close to a roster lock, but would drafting another defensive end be the best use of resources?
The Patriots biggest needs on defense in my mind are defensive tackle and off-the-ball linebacker, both positions that head coach Bill Belichick has shown a willingness to address in the first round. While those prospects are not quite known at this point in time, that is where most of my attention will be this winter.