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In his heart of hearts, Bill Belichick is a 3-4 guy. When you look at his career, he has had the most success in a 30 front. Based on the composition of the Patriots defensive line, it is built like a 30 front.
Belichick uncharacteristically spent a lot of money in free agency this off-season. One of the areas he spent a lot of that money on was the defensive line.
Belichick signed former Miami Dolphins nose tackle Davon Godchaux to a two year deal. At 6-3 310, Godchaux is your classic nose/shade tackle who is built for a 30 or G front. Godchaux is strong at the point of attack as a run stopper and he can control two gaps in a head up alignment. He can also rush the passer inside. He has terrific first step quickness.
The addition of former Green Bay Packer Montravius Adams gives the Patriots another big body that they can start or rotate inside.
Perhaps the most impactful interior defensive lineman the Patriots added this off-season is Alabama rookie Christian Barmore. Barmore fell to the second round and the Patriots traded up to get him. Barmore is long and quick off the ball. He has strong hands and can penetrate or control gaps. He offers some scheme versatility as well. Effort and attitude were his biggest issues in college but if the Patriots can get him to get his head on straight, they have a legitimate difference maker on the roster.
Byron Cowart could take over the Adam Butler interior pass rusher role but he will find it hard to get consistent snaps with so much talent on the roster. He is starting the season the PUP list.
Belichick also fortified the defensive end position by signing former New York Jet Henry Anderson. Anderson is long and can make a big impact as a four or five technique defensive end. Veteran Lawrence Guy re-signed in a surprise move. He not only offers great leadership but he can play the three technique and five technique defensive end. Anderson and Guy will allow the Patriots to play more traditional 30 fronts.
Perhaps Belichick’s most impactful free agent signing this off-season is former Baltimore Raven Matthew Judon. Judon is probably the best pass rusher the Patriots have had since Chandler Jones. He has an explosive first step, plays with great bend and lean and has a second gear to finish at the quarterback.
Judon is also plays with an “edge” (no pun intended) He gives the Patriots defense an attitude that they have lacked in recent years.
Rookie Ronnie Perkins will have an opportunity to carve a niche for himself in the Patriots defense as a situational pass rusher. Like Judon, he is a high motor player who is undersized but plays fast and with great leverage. Perkins is a pure speed rusher but he has great hands and can get into secondary moves.
Deatrich Wise re-signed this off-season. At 6-5 275, he is more of a 40 front, five technique defensive end but his versatility allows him to play in any front.
Tashawn Bower, Akeem Spence, Nick Thurman and Bill Murray will compete for back up spots but given how deep the Patriots are along the defensive line, it will be tough to make this roster unless you plays special teams.
The Patriots struggled to stop the run last season. Belichick made it a point to fortify the defensive line in an effort to improve in that area. Playing more 30 fronts and G fronts will also help.
The Patriots are deep and talented up front. The defensive line will set the tone for the entire defense this season.