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2019 NFL mock draft: Patriots bolster their pass rush with a high-upside defensive tackle

New England adds depth to its defensive line in this mock.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

While the New England Patriots are currently in the middle of what appears to be at least another run towards the playoffs, they will have their hands full whenever their season ultimately comes to an end: 24 of the players currently on the team’s pay roll — either on the active roster or a reserve list — will enter free agency next March, with 19 of them about to hit the unrestricted market.

One of the position groups that could see significant most turnover is the defensive line: players like Trey Flowers, Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton all will see their contracts expire in around four months. While there certainly is a chance that all or at least some of them return or get extended before that happens, New England might look drastically different in the defensive trenches next year.

It is therefore no surprise that the latest 2019 mock draft by CBS analyst Chris Trapasso has the Patriots add to their line:

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

Vince Wilfork 2.0? Kinda. Lawrence is even bigger than Wilfork was, but like the long-time anchor of New England’s defensive line, Lawrence can get up the field with impressive burst for his size and a nice arsenal of pass-rushing moves.

Trapasso, who has New England pick 30th, gives the Patriots a high-upside interior defender to potentially replace Brown and Shelton. Lawrence is an interesting player: he possesses the athletic skill set and size to become a difference maker at the next level but has not always lived up to his talents at Clemson. That being said, the junior defender has still been productive as a run stuffer and pass rusher.

The Patriots picking Lawrence would — depending on how free agency goes — help them in both aspects of the game. While his size gives the impression of him being primarily an early down run-stuffer, the 6’4”, 340 lbs defender has plenty of quickness to be effective versus the pass as well. During his 2016 freshman season, for example, he registered 6.5 sacks. All in all, Lawrence is certainly an interesting player to watch.