The 2020 Patriots had big problems in certain areas. On the defensive line, their solution was to get big.
That’s because the most glaring issue on the Pats’ defensive front in 2020 came against the run. New England ranked 26th in the National Football League with 2,103 opposing rushing yards. A lack of pass-rushing can obviously be a major problem, too, but if you can’t stop the run, good offenses are virtually impossible to slow down.
The run defense should see marked improvement in 2021, thanks to the Patriots’ massive retooling of the entire front-seven. But on the defensive line, specifically, a pair of notable free-agent additions and the retention of veteran anchors should make the Patriots harder to run against, especially up the middle.
But what about the pass-rushing? Adam Butler was the team’s most consistently dependable interior pass-rusher, but a promising rookie could represent an upgrade over him. And there are plenty of defensive linemen who still remain on the depth chart from prior seasons, so there will be a competition in the bottom-half of the list over the course of training camp, which begins July 28.
Here’s a preview of the Patriots’ 2021 defensive line as camp approaches…
Projected Depth Chart: Patriots Defensive Line
1. Deatrich Wise
2. Henry Anderson
3. Montravius Adams
4. Tashawn Bower
5. Nick Thurman
1. Lawrence Guy
2. Davon Godchaux
3. Byron Cowart
4. Christian Barmore
5. Carl Davis
6. Akeem Spence
7. Bill Murray
The Patriots are still likely to operate out of a 3-4 base, if not a 3-3-5 “Nickel” set. Either way, they’re looking at three down linemen, which explains the greater depth on the interior.
While the pass-rushing in this group will enter the season as a concern, the run defense should be vastly improved over 2020, which would make life a lot easier for the defense as a whole.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at email@example.com.