Feeling Drafty #17: New England Patriots: Defense

April 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , , )

If Tom Brady hadn't made everyone else look like a bunch of chumps, LB Jerod Mayo probably would've taken New England MVP. But, I'll go ahead and call him New England Defensive MVP.

It’s kind of surprising that only one 1st-round pick was traded.  Oakland traded their 1st-rounder to New England for Richard Seymour.  Is this going to work out for both teams?  I think so.  Seymour is a leader on a young defense, and New England can get two players in the first-round.  Everybody wins.

However, this means that Oakland won’t get a Feeling Drafty article.  But, I can summarize their season in about five seconds, ready?  Gradkowski, Campbell, Gradkowski, Campbell, Gradkowski, Boller, we kicked Denver’s ass.  There was also the postseason firing of head coach Tom Cable and the promotion offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, the reemergence of Darren McFadden, and Nnamdi Asomugha potentially leaving, but that’s about it.

However, since New England has two picks, and therefore two Feeling Drafty articles, and since so much stuff happened to the Pats, I’m going to split the New England FD article into two parts.  This one will have New England’s defense, and FD #28 will have New England’s offense.  (And since I’m doing New England’s defense here, I’ll try not to talk about my mancrush on Tom Brady too much.)

This is a young defense that has a lot of pieces there to be a powerful unit for years to come, and they’re led by Jerod Mayo.  Ever since he won the AP Defensive ROY in ’08, he’s been one of the driving forces of the Patriots’ defense.  This season, he led the NFL in tackles with 175.  He was also named to his first Pro Bowl and his first All-Pro team.

They also have Devin McCourty, New England’s first round draft pick last season.  He was the only person other than Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh to earn any votes for Defensive ROY by collecting 82 tackles, seven interceptions (most among rookies), and 17 deflections.

And it’s not just young people on this defense, they also have some solid veterans like Vince Wilfork.  In seven seasons with the Patriots, he has over 350 tackles, 9.5 sacks, three Pro Bowls, three All-Pro selections, and metric ton of fines.  Granted, he didn’t get fined this season, but he had plenty in the years before.

Bill Belichick loves hard-working, over-achieving workhorses, and that describes Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt in a nutshell.

However, they still need to fill the hole that Richard Seymour left at defensive end when he went to Oakland.  I think the best replacement for him is Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt.  Belichick loves over-achievers, and Watt is nothing if not an over-achiever.  He earned tons of awards such as AP and Sports Illustrated 2nd-team All-American, 1st-team All-Big 10, and Academic All-Big 10.  Plus, he fits better in the 3-4 defense that the Patriots employs.

Well, that’s New England’s defense.  In Feeling Drafty #28, we’ll talk about the Patriots’ offense, so we’ll have plenty to talk about.

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