Wanted: Elite athlete for front 7

In a story now posted on ESPNBoston.com, Mike Reiss writes on the Patriots and what it would mean if they could add an elite athlete to their front seven on defense. The Giants' drafting of Jason Pierre-Paul in 2010 is cited as an example of what can happen when a team rolls the dice a bit in that area.

The Patriots need more athletes on D, particularly in the front seven, and often times the quickest way to add some of the highest-impact players is to be willing to assume more risk than normally is desired. The player might not have a rock-solid fit in your system, but based on athleticism alone, there can be creative ways to unleash him on the opposition.

That's why Pierre-Paul, who had only started half a college football season, lasted to the 15th pick in 2010. It's why the Giants are now reaping the tremendous benefits.

One theme that was echoed by many head coaches and personnel executives over the past few days at the NFL combine is how football has changed in recent years. More passing means the game is being played more in space on defense. Some teams are in their sub defense, with five or six defensive backs on the field, almost 70 percent of the time.

This places an added premium on athletes up front who can help disrupt the opposing offense through pressure.

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said this year's draft is deep in the front seven. As the Patriots look for ways to improve the NFL's 28th-ranked third down defense, that would be a good place to start.

To read the piece, CLICK HERE.