The Patriots traded back into the second round, using the 71st and 98th picks to move up to the 60th spot while getting the 129th pick back. With the pick they selected Michigan edge rusher Josh Uche. Uche will be joining his former partner in crime Chase Winovich in the Patriots defensive edge rush rotation.
What makes Uche an intriguing prospect is his burst and athleticism off the edge. He gets off the line quick and can bend under tackles to close the gap. Not only does that create problems for tackles off the edge, he can move inside in speed packages as a mug 3-technique can create havoc inside the pocket. He combines the ability to rush from multiple spots with the ability to set a hard edge and drop into coverage. That combination skill set is very similar to former Patriot Jamie Collins.
As a rookie, he’ll likely be used as a situational player who can rush from multiple spots in the defense and play on a lot of the special teams units. I believe they’ll train him to be able to play both inside and outside linebacker. I believe the Patriots will try to maximize his value early on as a 3rd down/obvious passing down rusher while rotating him for a few snaps here and there at both outside and inside linebacker. Depending on how the team addresses the position next off-season he may spend more time at one position vs. another.
Long term, I think he’ll end up playing a Roman Phifer type role where the team moves him around the front 7 to utilize his ability to rush inside or off the edge while deploying him as an off-the-ball linebacker on base downs. His versatility will allow the Patriots to send more exotic blitz packages at the quarterback to create pressure.
How would you grade the Patriots drafting Josh Uche?
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