Defensive tackle & the draft

With the initial flurry of free agency behind us, we have a clearer focus on the Patriots’ needs entering the forthcoming draft.

With that in mind, we’re going to visit each position on the roster and assess how it could fit into the Patriots draft plans, as well as highlighting some prospects.

We’ll start with defensive tackle.

Current personnel: Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick, Marcus Forston, Myron Pryor, Armond Armstead

Need level: Moderate

Overview: The Patriots have their defensive anchor in Wilfork, who plays an extraordinary percentage of snaps for a player of his size, but they’re still looking for a partner to tag team with him. Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick served as starters in 2012, but each has an expiring contract this season, and the Patriots could use a tackle with more pocket disruption skills. Love’s performance also dipped late in the 2012 season. The wild card in the defensive tackle rotation is Armond Armstead (who we’ll also include in our defensive end write-up), who appears to fit the mold of what the Patriots need as he transitions from the CFL to the NFL.

Scouts, Inc. prospects of note (excluding players expected to be long gone by 29):

1. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina. 6-3, 313 pounds (2012 stats: 42 tackles, 6 sacks)

2. Johnathan Jenkins, Georgia. 6-4, 346 pounds (2012 stats: 50 tackles, 1 sack)

3. Kawann Short, Purdue. 6-3, 299 pounds (2012 stats: 42 tackles, 6 sacks)

4. Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State. 6-3, 320 pounds (2012 stats: 55 tackles, 1 sack)

5. Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State. 6-1, 335 pounds (2012 stats: 68 tackles, 8.5 sacks)

For additional information on these prospects and more, CLICK HERE to check out the Scouts Inc. player database (Insider content).