<
>

Breaking down the interior d-line

Pat Kirwan of NFL.com has been breaking down top NFL personnel at each position in recent weeks, and his assessment of interior defensive linemen includes a few Patriots players. Kirwan divides his work into four categories:

3-4 nose tackles

4-3 nose tackles

4-3 defensive tackle

3-4 defensive end

Kirwan explains that it's the only fair way to do a ranking of interior defensive linemen, because different systems ask players to do different things. The Patriots fall into the 3-4 categories and Kirwan puts Vince Wilfork in his top 5 among nose tackles.

"A mountain of a man on the inside for the Patriots who simply clogs the middle of the line," Kirwan writes. "But don't let Wilfork's big body fool you -- he can move well ..."

Kirwan also puts veteran Marcus Stroud in the honorable mention category at 3-4 defensive end, while noting that Ty Warren was considered but falls into a category of player who must "reinvent their game or in some cases get healthy."

Former Patriot Richard Seymour -- who starred as a 3-4 defensive end in New England -- lands in Kirwan's top 5 among 4-3 defensive tackles as that's the role he's played over the last two seasons with the Raiders.