Few positions will look as different as the defensive line does in 2021. Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise were key contributors last season and both return on new long-term free agent deals, but after them there are mostly new pieces, including a wide array of experienced NFL veterans with a sprinkling of youth.
Davon Godchaux and Henry Anderson are two tough, experienced defensive lineman who should immediately provide a boost to a run defense that had their struggles in 2020. Carl Davis and Akeem Spence saw limited action with the Patriots last season but both are back to compete and add important veteran depth, along with free agent signing Montravius Adams, who is in the nose tackle mold like Godchaux and Davis and saw plenty of reps in minicamp.
Nick Thurman, Bill Murray and Rashod Berry got good practice squad experience last season. Thurman appeared in seven games while Berry saw action in three games as the Patriots took advantage of 2020's practice squad rules. Now they'll have to translate that experience onto the training camp field to get a similar opportunity in 2021.
Adam Butler departed for Miami but the Patriots traded up in the second round of the draft to select Christian Barmore, the top-rated defensive tackle in the class who should immediately make an impact on passing downs in a role similar to the one Butler held for the last four seasons.
There's a nice mix along the defensive line, but how it all comes together is one of the biggest questions of training camp. Barmore, Godchaux and Anderson headline the new arrivals as all the pieces are there for this to be a group that can consistently win at the line of scrimmage whether it's on running or passing downs. This group will be rife with competition in August.