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AFC East top 25, No. 3: Patriots DT Vince Wilfork

Posted by Erik Frenz  May 30, 2013 08:00 AM

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Counting down the top 25 players in the AFC East, one player at a time, one day at a time.

Why Vince Wilfork?

The plight of Vince Wilfork will forever be the unglamorous role he plays. Even in the Patriots' 4-3 scheme, he is asked to occupy multiple blockers to free up space for his linemates.

At this point, few teams utilize a nose tackle the way the Patriots do, but nose tackles like Wilfork are a rare breed. On Grantland.com, Chris Brown -- author of The Essential Smart Football -- wrote about the Patriots defensive versatility and how Wilfork is the engine that makes everything else run effectively. The Patriots defensive scheme is one-of-a-kind, and is tailored to Wilfork's ability to be effective wherever he lines up.

Sacks are not typically the measure of solid play from Wilfork, but he logged 3.5 in 2011 and three in 2012, hitting those marks for the first time in his career. He also ranked in the top five defensive tackles in success count each of the past two years according to Advanced NFL Stats, a website which tracks the number of times a player was directly responsible for a successful play for the defense.

The Patriots are still looking to find the missing piece at defensive tackle: a solid pass-rusher who can complement Wilfork's space-eating ability when the team needs to get pressure on the quarterback. With Wilfork at one tackle spot, whoever is lining up next to him will have a much easier job as a result.

Did you know?

Wilfork might be the most honest defensive linemen in the game.

Bonus reading

Who could forget Greg Bedard's story on Wilfork after he and the Patriots dominated the Jets on Thanksgiving?

Check back every morning as we reveal one player a day on our way to No. 1 in the top 25.


This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »

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