Prototypical Patriots: Defensive tackle fits in 2020 NFL Draft
Looking for a nose tackle to fill the Danny Shelton role and back up veteran free-agent acquisition Beau Allen? This draft has that.
Want a run-stuffing 3-4 defensive end who can play a variety of techniques along the defensive like Lawrence Guy? This draft has that.
How about big-bodied pass-rushers, guys who can work the interior on third down, executing the games and stunts Bill Belichick so often calls for? Yup. This draft has that.
Click ahead to see which interior defensive linemen made our Prototypical Patriots series for 2020...
Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
6-foot-5, 324 pounds
One of the most physically impressive players in this year's draft class, Kinlaw could be off the board somewhere in the first 15 picks. He's explosive, he uses his 35-inch arms to out-leverage opponents, and he dominated high-level competition at the Senior Bowl.
He can two-gap if asked. He can get after the quarterback from the interior if asked. He's big enough to hold up over centers if needed. He'd be perfect in Belichick's defense, though he probably won't be available at No. 23.
2020 NFL Draft Highlights: Javon Kinlaw
Raekwon Davis, Alabama
6-foot-6, 311 pounds
A prototype 3-4 end if there ever was one for the Patriots. He's built to take up double-teams, hold off blockers with his 34-inch arms and 11-inch mitts, and seal running lanes. Is he going to wreak havoc in the passing game? Probably not. His three-cone and short-shuttle times were poor (seventh and sixth percentile, respectively, for defensive linemen).
But what he lacks in wiggle, he makes up for with power. It may be concerning for Belichick that Nick Saban wasn't able to get much more out of Davis than he did back in 2017. Still, for New England's scheme, Davis makes sense. NFL.com's comp for Davis is DeForest Buckner, who just helped the Niners get to the Super Bowl.
2020 NFL Draft Highlights: Raekwon Davis
Jordan Elliott, Missouri
6-foot-4, 302 pounds
From the SEC. Versatile. Consistent production. Good athleticism for his size. Elliott looks like a real option for the Patriots as an end to play opposite Lawrence Guy. He played outside the tackle occasionally for the Tigers and was a problem from the interior.
A Pro Football Focus favorite — their third interior defensive lineman behind Auburn's Derrick Brown and Kinlaw — he had excellent pass-rush and run-stop grades of over 90.0. At the combine, he clocked a very strong 1.71-second 10-yard split (86th percentile) that indicates he'll have some snap off the line.
2020 NFL Draft Highlights Jordan Elliott
Marlon Davidson, Auburn
6-foot-3, 303 pounds
Brown gets all the shine among Tigers defensive linemen — he'd make this list if it wasn't such a sure thing he'd be gone by No. 23 — but Davidson is impressive in his own right. His fit in New England requires some projection because he often played on the edge for the Tigers.
But at his body type, and with his strength, he could be able to hold up as more of an interior player. A four-year starter, Davidson fits the profile as a run-stuffer that the Patriots won't shy away from.
2020 NFL Draft Highlights: Marlon Davidson
Leki Fotu, Utah
6-foot-5, 330 pounds
Classic nose tackle. His height, weight, arm length (34 inches) and hand size (10.5 inches) make him an ideal fit as a "zero" or "one-technique" in New England. He's massive.
The Patriots just lost Danny Shelton, who manned that role in 2019, but they picked up another mountain of a man in veteran free agent Beau Allen to fill in. If the Patriots wanted a young option there who's under contract for four years, Fotu would work as a mid-round kind of player.
2020 NFL Draft Highlights: Leki Fotu
DaVon Hamilton, Ohio State
6-foot-4, 320 pounds
There wasn't a defensive tackle who graded out better than Hamilton during Senior Bowl practices, per PFF, as he won over 70 percent of his reps. Hamilton might fit better as a tackle in a 4-3, but he looks long enough (33-inch arms) and powerful enough to hold the point of attack as a 3-4 end.
And if it's versatility along the interior the Patriots covet, Hamilton is stout enough that he could fill in over the center in a pinch.
2020 NFL Draft Highlights: DaVon Hamilton
McTelvin Agim, Arkansas
6-foot-3, 309 pounds
Built like a 3-4 end with 33-inch arms and 10-inch hands, Agim is another one of the players in this year's class who has experience all up and down the line. And he did it in the SEC, playing everywhere from on the nose to outside of tackles as a defensive end.
Where he's not an ideal fit, though, is in his playing style. While the Patriots typically like run-stuffers on the interior, Agim appears to pride himself on his array of pass-rush moves. If he's a Day 3 selection, perhaps the Patriots will trust their coaches to be able to find a more powerful two-gapper in what looks like (right now, at least) a one-gap player.
Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
6-foot-3, 293 pounds
Madubuike is a little undersized to play an every-down role in New England's 3-4 style fronts. But he's strong for his size, and as a member of the Aggies, he showed an ability to hold up against the run. (He posted 31 bench reps of 225 pounds at the combine, which is 81st percentile for defensive tackles.)
If the Patriots wanted to use him as an Adam Butler-type of interior pass-rusher on third down, that might suit him. His 40 time (4.83 seconds, 97th percentile) and three-cone time (7.37 seconds, 88th percentile) indicate there's some real twitchy movement skills there that'd make him a good fit for Belichick's stunting, twisting fronts.
Rashard Lawrence, LSU
6-foot-2, 308 pounds
If he's there on Day 3, Lawrence is the type of player who looks like he'd interest the Patriots. He's a little undersized in terms of his height, but his long arms (34 inches) and massive paws (11 inches) will play at the next level as a run-focused five-technique.
Even if he's not the physical prototype, he's considered to be one of the best leaders on a winning program at LSU. His hold-the-point mentality and football character make him a pretty ideal later-round choice.
Broderick Washington, Texas Tech
6-foot-2, 305 pounds
Another undersized defensive end type for New England's 3-4 front, Washington (like Lawrence) will be a try-hard player who should endear himself to his team quickly wherever he ends up.
A two-time captain and a three-year starter, he seems like a high-character late-round add. He's not quite as explosive or as long as Lawrence, but on Day 3, he might make some sense if Belichick wants to add to his defensive line.
Darrion Daniels, Nebraska
6-foot-3, 311 pounds
Sensing a trend here? Daniels is another well-liked player at both programs he passed through, Oklahoma State and Nebraska, according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. Headed into a season with plenty of uncertainty, having those types — program-building types — seems like a priority for the Patriots. Belichick made sure to keep Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty, both long time captains, and he's brought on highly-respected veterans like Beau Allen and Brandon Copeland.
Nice as he may be to have in the locker room, can Daniels play? He seems like a throwback in that he may provide very little in the passing game, but there's often been a place for run-only players in New England.