2006: Seymour was invited to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl this season, although he couldn't attend because he needed to receive some medical treatment. While the Patriots two-gap defense certainly doesn't give the glory to the linemen, Seymour has made a name for himself by being a consistent run stopper and a solid pass rusher. He notched four sacks in the regular season and one in the postseason, and continued making everybody else's job easier by demanding double teams and butting heads with some of the toughest left tackles in the NFL.
Outlook: Seymour missed some time this year with elbow and groin injuries and reportedly had one of his knees cleaned up after the season ended, but he's proven he'll play through pain. He'll likely continue to be a force next year, and could return to his old form if he stays healthy.
2006: Talk about a breakout year, Warren had the second most tackles (117) and sacks (7.5). Some were outraged when he didn't make the Pro Bowl, but Warren didn't let that faze him. He just kept on working, and after he recorded 43 tackles and 4.0 sacks in the month of December, he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month. He also made Peter King's SI.com All-Pro team.
Outlook: As long as the humble big man the players call "Tiny" continues to work as hard as he has over the last four seasons, the sky's the limit for him. If he matches this year's performance in 2007, he'll be tough to keep out of the Pro Bowl.
2006: As a backup to two extremely talented ends, Green still managed to tie Warren for the second-highest sack total on the team (7.5), contributing 52.5 sack yards this season. He was also credited with more tackles than Seymour (57), essentially qualifying him to stand toe-to-toe with the two starters. He was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week following his 3.0 sack game at Cincy.
Outlook: Look for Green to improve his run technique and continue to be an outstanding pass rusher. He should continue to provide excellent depth to the Patriots defensive ends, allowing them to rotate in and stay fresh.
2006: Since being selected in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Hill has struggled to come into his own in the NFL, only recording nine total tackles. He was inactive for most of this season and was unproductive.
Outlook: The clock has been ticking on Hill for some time now, and if he can't show marked improvement in training camp, he could be pegged for release by the final roster cut-downs for the '07 season.
Analysis: The Patriots starting defensive ends are reliable and will be around for a while, which is not a good thing for opposing offenses. Warren was an animal this year, and if anyone is "due" another great season, it's Seymour. Green could be a starter, but is an outstanding backup. Like the offensive linemen, these guys are secured for the long term and are a tightly knit, selfless group. The Patriots will likely make some moves in the linebacking department and the defensive backfield, but the strength of the defensive line will probably provide valuable support to those groups while they're in flux. This is one area where the Patriots have little to worry about, though it wouldn't be a total surprise to see the team pick up a young end to develop under such great mentors.