In a detailed, informative piece on CBSSports.com, Pat Kirwan writes on defensive linemen in the NFL and how there are a select group of players who defy any scheme. Kirwan includes Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork in that category.
Kirwan ranks Wilfork as the NFL's third-best defensive lineman, behind Houston's J.J. Watt and Baltimore's Haloti Ngata.
"Wilfork has built up his stamina over the past few years and now plays in many pass situations that years ago he would have been subbed out for," Kirwan writes. "Wilfork has outstanding range along the line of scrimmage and that's the reason New England plays him at DE more often than he lines up in his original NT position."
As part of his analysis, Kirwan looks at a combination of sacks, hurries and knockdowns for each lineman, and Wilfork had one of the lowest numbers (9) of any defensive lineman.
"Stats don't tell the whole story with defensive linemen. For example, there is no statistical category for the lineman who takes on a double team and frees a linebacker to make a tackle. There are no statistics for hustle and pursuit," Kirwan notes.
Kirwan breaks down defensive linemen this way:
116 starters in the NFL
Unique charactertistics of linemen depend on scheme -- 3-4 or 4-3
Different positions within those schemes -- 3-4 nose tackle; 4-3 nose tackle, 3-4 defensive end, 4-3 left defensive end, 4-3 right defensive end, 4-3 defensive tackle
In his analysis, Kirwan puts Chandler Jones in the "on the rise" group, writing: "Jones lined up at RDE in the Patriots' 4-3 defense as a rookie last year. Some thought it would take two years for Jones to be strong enough to play well in the NFL, but he demonstrated he was much further along than anticipated."
To read Kirwan's piece, CLICK HERE.