The New England Patriots are aggressively trying to improve their roster one weakness at a time this offseason, and among the most prominent areas that need to be worked on is the run defense. Whether it was setting a stout edge or clogging the lanes on the interior, the Patriots struggled against the ground game last season.
So, what are they doing in free agency? Upgrading their entire front seven. The latest move adds another big-bodied interior defensive lineman, who has had some good moments against the run in the past: Montravius has reportedly agreed to come to New England on a one-year contract to help bolster the team’s defensive tackle position.
Name: Montravius Adams
Position: Defensive tackle
Opening day age: 26
Size: 6-foot-4, 305 pounds
Contract: 1 year, $2.5 million
Coming off a four-year career at Auburn, Adams heard his name called on Day Two of the 2017 draft: the Green Bay Packers selected him 93rd overall in the third round. The start into his professional career was a slow one, however. Adams suffered a stress fracture in his foot early in training camp and as a result was forced to sit out his entire rookie preseason. Failing to make up for the missed time, he saw action in just seven games as a reserve option. His first season was a sign of things to come.
While Adams went on to appear in 40 more games over the next three years, he never quite took the leap into a more prominent role. Despite an intriguing athletic profile, he failed to exceed the 20-percent playing time share he had in 2017. In total, he finished his Packers tenure with just 595 defensive snaps and rather unspectacular numbers. He did force and recover a fumble each, but notched only 1.5 sacks while failing to string together positive plays. A season-ending toe injury suffered last November all but sealed his fate.
What is his projected role in New England? While Adams has played a few snaps at the nose as well, he projects to be more of a 3-technique end in the Patriots’ 3-4-based front-line scheme. In this role he will likely be employed primarily on early downs against the run than the pass, and would be asked to serve as a two-gap defender responsible for filling his lanes and freeing up the linebackers attacking from the second level.
Where does he fit on the defensive tackle depth chart? Adams is joined by nine other interior defensive linemen at the moment, with only two of them — Davon Godchaux and Deatrich Wise Jr. — locks to make the roster. Adams would compete for a rotational spot alongside them with Henry Anderson, Byron Cowart and Akeem Spence his closest competition in the unlikely case no additional players get added to the mix.
Does he have positional versatility? Even though Adams brings a solid athletic foundation to the table and was moved around the front a bit during his time in Green Bay, his skillset is still rather one-dimensional. He is best suited to play over the guard, moving between the 1- and 3-technique spots and trying to hold his ground in the running game. He has only limited upside when asked to shoot up the field versus the pass.
What is his special teams value? With his defensive role limited, the Packers gave Adams somewhat regular action in the kicking game. Playing on the field goal and extra point blocking units, as well as the protection squad on the other side, he played a combined 257 snaps in the game’s third phase. Being able to perform on special teams could be his ticket to the roster.
What does it mean for New England’s salary cap? While the raw reported numbers never tell the whole story, Adams’ deal with the Patriots is not expected to leave too big a mark on the team’s salary cap. At one year with a maximum value of $2.5 million, it seems more likely that it hardly registers at all under the offseason Rule of 51. His contract is therefore expected to be a reflection of his standing on the team.
What does it mean for New England’s draft outlook? Considering his status as a projected fringe roster player, adding Adams should not change the Patriots’ draft plans along the interior defensive line. They would still benefit from adding more bodies to the equation, with an early-round selection being invested seemingly in the realm of possibility.
One-sentence verdict: Montravius Adams has a chance to get his career back on track, but will need to get up to speed quickly in order to even make it to the 53-man roster.
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