As part of a preview for New England Patriots training camp (first practice July 30) and to re-familiarize ourselves with the roster, it's time to bring back the "checking the locks" series. Today, we continue with defensive tackles.
Analysis: With Vince Wilfork now in Houston, this spot naturally has a different look. The Patriots obviously would be thrilled if Brown, their first-round pick out of Texas, could step into those big shoes right off the bat. But that’s asking a lot, which is why Siliga is viewed as a “sure-fire lock” as the team’s current top nose tackle. Branch, who re-signed on a two-year deal that included a $700,000 signing bonus, adds another layer of depth, but I don’t think that’s a total making him a “sure-fire lock.” Another compelling storyline for the team is with Easley, their 2014 first-round pick. He was shut down in December to give his knee a chance to get back to top form, as he lacked some of the explosiveness that drew the Patriots to him in the first place. Easley tore both ACLs while in college. When healthy, he can be a disruptive interior rusher. Jones is solid in that role as well. Moore, the 2014 sixth-round pick from Concordia, added some bulk this offseason and at 290 pounds look primed to be more of an interior sub rusher. Vellano has contributed in the past and can’t be counted out, while Johnson is making a comeback and Taylor is an undrafted rookie.
Checking the locks 2015
Cornerbacks in transition
Running backs closely bunched in competition
Safeties add infusion of youth
Wide receivers don’t have much intrigue with top six returning