We continue our position-by-position look at the Patriots as they head into the draft with an examination of the defensive ends.
Need level: Moderate
Overview: While the Patriots have plenty of bodies at the defensive end position, the team could stand to add one more pass-rushing presence to complement the strong play from Ninkovich and Jones, who combined for 14 sacks last season. The team already has hosted both John Abraham and Dwight Freeney for free agent visits, and while neither veteran was signed, it was an indication of the team's interest in adding a player capable of generating consistent pressure. Both remain on the market, so the Patriots have options to address the defensive end spot through the draft or free agency. A consistent pass rusher who could play in a situational role in sub packages would help the Patriots improve their total of 37 sacks from 2012 and create more disruption from the front seven. At the recent ESPN Boston draft preview event, ESPN college football analyst Trevor Matich noted that this draft is deep with pass rushers, which could open the door to the Patriots adding an impact player at pick 29 or later.
Scouts Inc.'s defensive end prospects of note:
1. Ezekiel Ansah, Brigham Young. 6-5, 271 pounds. 2012 stats: 62 tackles, 4.5 sacks.
2. Barkevious Mingo, LSU. 6-4, 241 pounds. 2012 stats: 33 tackles, 4 sacks.
3. Bjoern Werner, Florida State. 6-3, 266 pounds. 2012 stats: 40 tackles, 13 sacks.
4. Margus Hunt, SMU. 6-8, 277 pounds. 2012 stats: 31 tackles, 8 sacks.
5. Tank Carradine, Florida State. 6-4, 276 pounds. 2012 stats: 80 tackles, 11 sacks.
For additional information on these prospects and more, CLICK HERE to check out Scouts Inc.'s player database (Insider content).