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The Patriots quietly put together an excellent 2021 season defensively. They gave up a lot of yards on the ground and were on the low end in terms of sacks but excelled in nearly every other important category. New England was second versus the pass in yards and completion percentage and gave up the fourth-fewest points through the air. They ranked 22nd in yards on the ground but tied for the fewest points allowed with nine scores. They were even second in interceptions and third in total takeaways.
It could be hard for the team to repeat that level of play, especially considering they lost one of the league’s premier corners. We are used to seeing a few faces that will be absent from this year’s roster, but the defense should still hold up its end of the bargain.
Traditionally, New England has not given IDP managers a lot to work with. They broke that mold last year with several players worthy of starting consideration for us. That part should remain the same and might even be slightly better in 2022.
The Patriots are one of the league’s many multiple front defenses though they were in a 3-4 more often last year than in previous seasons and well over half of the time. Regardless of the call, five players are likely to share most of the playing time along the line. Three could have IDP relevance if they can be played as tackles.
Devin Godchaux lines up at nose tackle/1-technique in either front and is a dependable starter for managers in leagues that start two interior linemen. He will not be impressive in the sack or turnover columns but is a standout run defender with the ability to get off blocks and enough range between the tackles to make a lot of stops on the inside.
In 2019 Godchaux was the number ten defensive tackle while with the Dolphins. That season he turned in 79 combined stops and a pair of sacks. He missed most of the 2020 season but returned strongly in his first season with the Patriots, finishing 15th with 65 total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. There is little room for upside here, but Godchaux can be considered a safe DT2.
After Godchaux, positional designation gets a little grayer. Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore, Deatrich Wise, and Henry Anderson are all players that will lineup as ends in three-man fronts and tackles in the 4-3. Deatrich might even see some snaps as a 4-3 end or 3-4 outside backer once in a while, and Barmore will get a fair share of his playing time in relief of Godchaux. The bottom line is that these guys move around some and are, to a large extent, interchangeable by design. There are similarities in terms of their statistical production as well.
Since coming to the Patriots in 2017, Guy has consistently provided tackle totals in the area of 60 combined and a splash play or two. His best numbers were in 20-19 at 36-25-3 with 3 turnovers. If your league host calls him a tackle, Guy has similar value to Godchaux. As a defensive end, his value is marginal.
Most host sites call Wise a defensive end, but it doesn’t matter what his position is. We heard a fair amount of coachspeak over his first couple of years about how he was a breakout candidate and was ready to step up big. Instead, we see the same player every year. Wise has not exceeded 28 solo stops in any of his four season’s as a pro, and his career-best of four and a half sacks came in his rookie year of 2018.
Henry Anderson will see some action in relief, but his role will be too small to be a factor. That will not be the case with last year’s second-round pick. Barmore did not make a major statistical splash as a rookie with 45 combined stops and 1.5 sacks, but he played the second most snaps among Patriots linemen, behind Godchaux.
Barmore was the first defensive tackle off the board in 2021, at 2.06, and the Patriots may have gotten a steal. He is a powerful player with a relentless motor and a knack for getting penetrating gaps to disrupt running plays. Hir rookie numbers were not eye-catching at 24-21-1.5, but he has a skill set and college history to suggest bigger things are yet to come.
Barmore only played two seasons at Alabama, electing to turn pro after a sophomore year that saw him record 37 combined tackles, 8 sacks, and three forced fumbles in eleven games. He turns 23 at the end of July and is just reaching his physical peak.
- NT/DT Davon Godchaux – Dependable DT2 with marginal upside
- DT/DE Lawrence Guy – Has some value as a low DT2 or good depth
- DT/DE Christian Barmore – Target as a DT3 with a high ceiling
- DT/DE Sam Roberts – Developmental rookie
- DE/DT Henry Anderson – No impact
- DE/DT/OLB Deatrich Wise – Marginal statistical production.
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