Fans of the Patriots are constantly told that the team is ‘too finesse’ and needs to be ‘more physical’. Personally I find those terms rather clichĂ© and nebulous, but let’s just say that we want the team to upgrade and improve (i.e., become more physical); which players and positions are the most important to upgrade with a bigger, stronger player?
LT – can’t see the team moving on from Nate Solder
LG – ditto for Logan Mankins
C — I thought Ryan Wendell had a good season; don’t think there is a realistic upgrade available.
RG – replace Dan Connolly with who? Donald Thomas? A free agent?
RT – satisfied with Sebastian Vollmer? If not, then who is a realistic improvement? I don’t see one.
RB – should the Pats add a big bruising back? Don’t forget those guys are typically slower; if that’s the case, then who departs? Perhaps adding a genuine fullback would be the way to go. Don’t forget the Pats had three on their off-season roster a year ago; this is something that has obviously already crossed Bill Belichick’s mind.
WR – while the rallying cry is for a ‘big, physical receiver’, isn’t it more important to be able to get better run blocking and pass protection?
DT – Vince Wilfork is obviously fine; what about the other DTs? Do the Pats need to use an early pick on another DT? Henry Melton would be a more than welcome addition but is likely far too pricey; are there any other free agents worth considering?
DE – Chandler Jones obviously stays; what about Rob Ninkovich? He comes up with a lot of big plays on sacks and turnovers; are we willing to sacrifice that for a player we hope may win more individual battles over the course of a game? Should the Pats go after a free agent like Michael Bennett, who should be less expensive than a guy like Michael Johnson.
LB – wasn’t the issue that this group needed to improve in pass coverage, as opposed to being ‘more physical’?
S – how do you balance the need to cover with being ‘more physical’?
CB – while it would be nice to get bigger and taller, those CBs are hard to find when you draft as late as the Pats do. Any faith Ras-I Dowling can contribute?
It seems to me that if the Patriots truly do want to become ‘more physical’, then the most likely areas would be at safety, defensive tackle, defensive end, and right guard – not necessarily in that order. But how much improvement can realistically be made at those positions in one off-season?
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