“It’s a position that we didn’t feel like we had a great deal of depth in,” Belichick said on a conference call on Tuesday. “They’re young, they’re healthy, they’re big, they run well, they have good physical qualities, they have good mental makeup, they’ve been productive in preseason on other teams. So, some combination of all those things I guess.”
Quarles, a 6-foot-3, 297-pound lineman out of South Carolina, slid out of the draft before signing with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent. The Patriots’ preseason finale with the Giants gave Belichick and his staff a closer look at Quarles.
“There’s a decent amount of tape on Kelcy prior to our game but I think he played in the neighborhood of 30 plays, or something like that, against us,” Belichick said. “It was certainly a chance for us to get a closer evaluation and also see him against people that we know how good they are because they’re our players.”
“Sometimes when you’re watching guys on film, you not only have to evaluate the player that you’re looking at but also the competition that he’s against. So we had a lot better handle on that. Yeah, I think that game was consistent with what it’s been from him. Again, for a young player it’s always good to have two or three games.”
While Quarles' college success came as an interior pass-rushing lineman, Gaston projects as a big-bodied run-stopper at 6-foot-2 and 308 pounds, but also possesses some versatility to move around the line.
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is trying to find the right roles for Quarles and Gaston.
“We’re trying to take a look at everybody and still trying to figure out what are the best positions,” Patricia said. “We’re obviously a defense that’s going to have people in a lot of different spots, so I think those two guys came in and worked hard the other day to try to get acclimated to the system.
“Obviously we’ll get another day here tomorrow to get a good look at them playing in our system. We’re just trying to take it day by day and just trying to get ready for Miami. I mean, that’s really our main focus and just get those guys caught up as soon as we can.”