In the lead-up to 2022 Training Camp, we're inspecting the Patriots roster position by position. Today, an examination of the defensive line.
Analysis: The defensive line group returns largely intact from 2021, with rookie sixth-rounder Sam Roberts and undrafted rookie LaBryan Ray being the only new additions.
The topline of long-time Patriots vets like Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise headline the unit, while vets Davon Godchaux and Carl Davis provide a capable rotation as run stoppers. Godchaux's strides in his second season are a key factor to watch, with the consistency and leadership of Guy and Wise also playing a big part.
Christian Barmore is the most exciting member of the group, he was consistently disruptive in his rookie season, playing 55 percent of the defensive snaps. Will he be an every-defender in his second season? The height of his ascension could set the ceiling for not just the defensive line but the entire defense.
Henry Anderson was lost to injury last year and could prove to be a valuable reinforcement on the defensive front, while Daniel Ekuale emerged from the practice squad last season but is facing a two-game suspension to start the season, something that might actually help his roster chances.
Byron Cowart hasn't been seen practicing on the field in over a year but could push for early-down consideration inside if he can get healthy. Bill Murray has spent two years on the practice squad and might be ready to make a roster push as well.
The rookie Roberts is trying to make a big jump to the NFL but has the size and strength to hold his own against the improved level of competition. He's one of few wild cards in the position group and will be one to watch during one-on-ones.
The defense faded down the stretch in 2021 and the defensive line welcomes back largely the same cast of linemen. Barmore brings optimism but both he and the vets around him will have to better if the Patriots are to get back to consistently winning the line of scrimmage.