3: Patriots DT 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 lineman in the game. He once told officials they blew a call in New England’s favor.