The Dominique Easley era has officially begun in Foxboro after Thursday night’s NFL Draft first round saw the Patriots draft Easley, a 6’2″, 288 pound defensive lineman, with the 29th overall pick.
Injuries to Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly decimated the Patriots’ interior line last season, and Easley is expected to step right in and play- especially with Wilfork coming back from Achilles surgery.
A big part of the reason the Patriots drafted Easley was his ability to play both inside and outside on the defensive line. Easley had the raw talent to be a much higher pick, but he missed huge chunk of his junior year at Florida after having ACL surgery. He has now had ACL surgery on each knee.
Easley will provide insurance in the event that Wilfork is slow to recover from his injury early in the season, as well as spelling Rob Ninkovic and Chandler Jones, as they each had to play 95% of the Patriots’ defensive plays last season.
The Patriots drafting Easley with their first-round pick continued Bill Belichick’s recent trend of drafting defensive players while adding offensive players later in the draft and through free agency. Twelve of the last 15 players drafted by the Patriots have been defensive players, and the only three offensive players among those picks were all wide receivers.
Future Hall of Famer Tom Brady turns 37 in August, and Belichick’s recent obsession with drafting defensive players seems to indicate that in the post-Brady era, the team will revert to being a defensive-first type team that won three Super Bowls in four years during Belichick’s first five years as Patriots head coach.
The Patriots certainly need some help on defense, as they ranked 26th in total yards allowed and 1st downs allowed while finishing 30th in rushing yards allowed last season.
Don Ellis started covering sports professionally when he was 15. He attended Ball State University, and some of his past credits include InsideHoops (columnist) and ESPN Florida (The Florida Sports Reporters, SportsCenter anchor) . In addition to running Bullsville.net and writing for The Sports Bank and ChicagoNow (Bullsville), he is also a KHSAA baseball umpire. He’s a 3rd-generation Cubs fan, a Bulls fan since the days of Van Lier and Sloan, and a life-long New England Patriots fan. Follow Don on Twitter @Bullsville.Follow paulmbanks