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Feeling the draft: Defensive tackles

01.19.10 at 5:00 am ET
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WEEI.com is the place to be for everything you need to know about the 2010 NFL Draft. We’re kicking off the draft coverage by going through the Patriots’ depth chart, position by position, and telling you which players the Pats could target come late April.

Previous positions:

Cornerback

Safety

Outside Linebacker

Inside Linebacker

Defensive End

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

State of the position: Vince Wilfork (free agent), Mike Wright (3 years remaining), Myron Pryor (3 years remaining), Ron Brace (3 years remaining).

Though there is a ton of buzz regarding Wilfork’s future, the position of nose tackle is likely in pretty good shape for the 2010 season. It is hard to imagine the Patriots will let Wilfork walk — at least franchising him — so even though Brace has a long way to go, there is no need to invest a high pick in a nose tackle this season. After all, the Patriots waited for Ted Washington to walk in ’04 before drafting Wilfork and bringing in Keith Traylor to help him along. There is no pressing need for a D-tackle at the moment, and as was said in the piece on defensive ends, this is a pretty rough draft for the 3-4.

Potential free agents of note: Aubrayo Franklin, Richard Seymour (has said multiple times he will not consider a return to New England), Casey Hampton.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES IN THE DRAFT TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

Dan Williams: Senior, Tennessee, 6-foot-3, 327 pounds.

2009 stats: 62 tackles, 2 sacks.

What he brings: Great play against the run.

Where the Patriots could get him: Second round.

Again, probably not worth taking a nose tackle this high, but the second round is the highest the Patriots would even consider the position. Williams is a great run-stuffer, but questions about his work ethic and consistency might outweigh the fact that he figures to be a 3-4 nose tackle and, though he showed up at college weighing a ton more, has essentially the same body as Wilfork and Brace. The below video features Williams when he was playing with current Patriot Jerod Mayo and top safety prospect Eric Berry.

Terrence Cody: Senior, Alabama, 6-foot-5, 365 pounds.

2009 stats: 28 tackles.

What he brings: Size, outstanding run-stuffing ability.

Where the Patriots could get him: Second round.

If the Patriots do go for a defensive tackle this high, history would suggest it might be Cody. The Alabama product uses his size to compensate for all of his shortcomings (poor play against the pass, the undoubtedly sub-par 40 time he will have in Indianapolis), but there are concerns about his weight — the same concerns that many believe were the reason for Vince Wilfork’s tumble to 21 on draft day. Between the Saban connection and the fact that he would give the Patriots their biggest defensive lineman, he could be a possibility in the second round. Cody only played two seasons at Alabama after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and he needed his senior year to prove his health after spraining his MCL as a junior.

Late-round defensive tackles the Patriots could be interested in:

Al Woods: Senior, LSU, 6-foot-4, 323 pounds. Strength, size, and a ton of untapped potential, as he didn’t become a starter until his senior year.

Vince Oghobaase: Senior, Duke, 6-foot-6, 300 pounds. Equally effective against the pass and the run but would need to bulk up to play nose.

Cam Thomas: Senior, North Carolina, 6-foot-3, 330 pounds. Production in college wasn’t spectacular, but has the size and quicker feet than Brace.

Read More: 2010 NFL Draft, Print  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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