Flipping sides of the football, we’ll begin our defensive positional review with the defensive tackles.
Key Statistics: Wilfork: 48 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 3 sacks (81.3 percent of regular-season snaps); Love: 49.4 percent of regular-season snaps; Deaderick: 34.1 percent of regular-season snaps.
Overview: Relative to his position, no Patriot had a better season than Wilfork, who was at the center of the defense and a dominant force on virtually every snap. His value transcends his statistics, although 48 tackles and 3 sacks for a player who earns a double team on the majority of his snaps is no small feat. Wilfork has tremendous size, strength, athleticism and technique for his position, and is also one of the defense’s three top leaders (including Jerod Mayo and Devin McCourty). Next to Wilfork, Love started off the year strong, but began to share more time down the stretch with Deaderick. Deaderick is the superior athlete and can also work on the edge a little bit, while Love is a strong and big-bodied player. The Patriots may look to add depth to the defensive tackle spot this offseason to bring aboard a player to pair with Wilfork who can play a higher percentage of snaps. Those aren’t easy to find, and the Patriots often used Jermaine Cunningham as an interior rusher to provide a pass-rush boost in sub defense.
2013 Personnel Preview: All four of the players listed above are under contract for 2013, meaning the team is in good shape from a retention standpoint. The team already has gone to work in beefing up the position in signing highly coveted CFL product Armond Armstead, who has some scouts buzzing about his pro potential. He seems to be a player that could provide a pass rush boost in 2013.