Anyone who watched the Patriots disappointing loss in the Super Bowl knows the defense was largely responsible for the defeat. As the Eagles marched effortlessly up and down the field to the tune of 41 points, New England was helpless in putting a stop to the carnage, right down to the final quarter.
So with the Combine fast approaching and the start of free agency right behind, it's time to look at ways the Patriots might be able to improve on that side of the ball. The problem is, where do they start?
Bill Belichick will have a new coordinator in 2018 but not a lot of proven talent for the new guy to work with. The front seven in particular seems to be thin, but the team also will be down a cornerback with the loss of Malcolm Butler to free agency.
The Patriots could go in a number of different ways to bolster the sagging unit, but this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question will look for one specific spot. What position should be the Patriots priority on defense this offseason?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Bill Belichick could probably help the team by adding the best defensive player available at any position but I felt the edge was the spot that was particularly lacking last season. Trey Flowers did a serviceable job on one side, but there wasn't a viable option on the other end all year, and that lack of depth really hurt.
The Patriots need to find some athleticism to put on the edge and allow him to wreak some havoc. James Harrison did a nice job setting the edge against the run, but he's not capable of playing full time at this stage of his career and the team would be better off if it didn't need his services next season.
Belichick needs to find an option to put on the outside – perhaps a free agent such as Ziggy Ansah or Trent Murphy – or even a trade for former Rams first-round pick Robert Quinn, who is rumored to be on the block. Adding a talented athlete on the edge would move players down a peg and create some depth, and that should improve the overall quality of the defense.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
There's no question the defense needs some talent but figuring out which spot needs it most is much tougher. Honestly, Bill Belichick can't go wrong because the Patriots need help at all three levels.
Since the NFL is such a passing league, and we just watched a backup quarterback torch the secondary for 373 yards in the Super Bowl, I'd like to see New England add some talent at cornerback.
Malcolm Butler is gone and we already saw what life without him might be like against the Eagles, Eric Rowe has some talent but he's also injury prone. Jonathan Jones is unproven and Cyrus Jones has done little in two years and will be coming off a torn ACL.
The Patriots need some help at corner, and Belichick probably needs to sign a free agent and use one of his top three picks on one to get some.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.