There are many new faces on this Patriots team compared to last year. The Pats acquired four guys from trade, fifteen from free agency, and nine from the NFL Draft. They also lost nine players from trade and free agency and had three players retire.
In this new series, I will be looking at every player from each position leading up to training camp. For this part of the series, I will take a look at the defensive ends. The Pats acquired one DE via free agency and one as an undrafted rookie. The defensive end position was a concern last year due to health issues, but a lot of guys will be coming back.
Adrian Clayborn #94 (2018-Present):
Adrian Clayborn was acquired by New England this off-season during free agency. Clayborn is entering his 8th season in the NFL, and 1st for the Pats. He was drafted by Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2011 Draft and played four seasons for the Bucs. Over those four seasons, he only played in 36 games due to injuries. Clayborn was then signed by Atlanta in 2015 as an unrestricted free agent. His first two seasons in Atlanta started off slow with him only having 7.5 sacks in that span. However, his 2017 campaign proved why he was a first-round pick. He played in all 16 games that season, but only started 2. In those 16 games, Clayborn had a career high in sacks (9.5) including a game against Dallas where he had 6 sacks.
Happy Birthday to @Patriots DE Adrian Clayborn!
— NFL (@NFL) July 6, 2018
Clayborn is a welcome addition to what was a depleted front seven for the Pats last year. Adrian will look to team up with Trey Flowers and wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. He will definitely make the team for the upcoming season.
Trey Flowers #98 (2015-Present):
Even though Flowers was drafted in 2015, he is the longest-tenured Patriot at defensive end. Flowers is now entering his 4th season for New England in 2018. Trey missed most of his rookie season after a shoulder injury placed him on injured reserve. Flowers’ 2016 season was a massive breakthrough the Pats needed for their Super Bowl run. He played in all 16 games that season and had seven sacks. His real breakout on the national level came in Super Bowl 51 against Atlanta. In that game, Flowers had 2.5 sacks and a crucial one on 2nd down to push the Falcons out of field goal range.
— Austin Kellerman (@AustinKellerman) February 6, 2017
Flowers had another solid season in 2017 where he had 6.5 sacks. Overall, Trey is the leader of the defensive line for New England at such a young age. He can only get better and will most certainly make the team for next season.
Derek Rivers #95 (2017-Present):
Derek Rivers is entering his second season in the NFL. He was the highest draft pick for New England in 2017 as he was taken 86th overall. Rivers did not play one snap during the season though as he suffered a torn ACL. He played college football for Youngstown State at the FCS level. He quickly became one of the best pass-rushers of all-time in FCS. Rivers totaled 41 career sacks over his four-year career. This was a school record and is fifth all-time in sacks at the FCS level.
— DLineVids (@DLineVids) January 28, 2017
Rivers has a lot of potential for the upcoming season. He is a complete pass-rusher and can get to the QB at a high rate. I believe he will make the roster for the upcoming season.
Deatrich Wise #91 (2017-Present):
Deatrich Wise is entering his 2nd season in the NFL and for the Pats. He was drafted by New England in the 2017 NFL Draft with the 131st overall pick. Wise got a lot of playing time in the 2017 season due to the injuries to the Patriots front seven. He played in all 16 games, and had 5 total sacks. He also had 2 sacks against Tennessee in the divisional round of the 2017 NFL Playoffs.
This sack by Deatrich Wise was sweet. Inside arm in between the OTs arms on his punch and swipes through to get him off-balance. Then bend and finish. Not bad for his second NFL game. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/59Lj9w6tXd
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) June 22, 2018
Wise has shown as a fourth-round pick that he can contribute to this team. He is a very good pass-rusher and can also occasionally be put on run situations. I believe that Wise will make the roster for next season.
Eric Lee #55 (2017-Present):
Eric Lee is entering his second year in the NFL and 1st full season for New England. Lee was picked up by Houston as an undrafted free agent but was later released after the preseason. The Bills picked Lee up and placed him on their practice squad until October. He was picked up by New England in November of that year. Lee played 6 games for the Patriots and had 3.5 sacks and one INT. His only INT came off the team that cut him a month earlier, the Buffalo Bills.
Eric Lee INTpic.twitter.com/Dy1wDjikg2
— PatriotsNation™️ (@PatsNationTM) December 3, 2017
Lee was a good pickup for New England halfway through the season last year. He showed what he brings to the table last year, but will still have to battle to get a spot on the roster.
Geneo Grissom #96 (2015-Present):
Geneo Grissom was actually drafted 14 picks before Trey Flowers in the 2015 NFL Draft. Grissom will be entering his fourth season in the NFL and for the Pats. Grissom has definitely not outplayed Trey over his stint in New England. Over his three year career, he has played only 34 regular season games with only one sack. His best game came against Tennessee in the 2017 playoffs where he had two sacks.
— DLineVids (@DLineVids) January 15, 2018
Grissom has been a disappointment in New England. I believe he was only kept on the roster last year due to the lack of depth at pass-rusher. Grissom is a candidate to get cut for the upcoming season if he doesn’t show his talent in training camp.
Trent Harris (Rookie):
Trent Harris was picked up by New England as an undrafted free agent from Miami. Harris had a four-year career at the “U” where he played in 44 games. Over that span, he had 15 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss. His senior year he had 8.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss.
Harris is a DE/OLB hybrid as he can also cover tight ends and slot receivers. Trent’s best option of making the team is practice squad unless he does something amazing in preseason or training camp.
The defensive end group for New England this year is a major upgrade from last year. With additions like Derek Rivers and Adrian Clayborn, the Pats are bound to make another Super Bowl run.