In selecting Ron Brace of Boston College, the Patriots acquire one of the few players in the draft who fits the nose tackle position in the 3-4 scheme. At 6-foot-3, 330 pounds, he is considered a strong run defender.
The Patriots starting nose tackle, Vince Wilfork, enters the final year of his contract. In selecing Brace, the Patriots give themselves a fallback plan -- and perhaps a little leverage -- if things don't work out contractually with Wilfork.
The Patriots have five of their eight defensive lineman entering the final year of their contract, so it was time to start feeding the pipeline.
Prior to the selection of Brace, the Patriots' top backup nose tackle was Mike Wright. While Wright can still serve in that role, this will likely kick him out to end on a more consistent basis.
- Intelligence/character: From Burncoat High School in Worcester, to Chestnut Hill, to Foxborough … Is adept at playing up front in a 4-3 scheme or playing the nose in a 3-4 setup … Second-team all-ACC last season after being honorable mention in 2007 … Diligent in film work … Too nice in the trenches? … Won back-to-back state shot put titles in high school … Born Dec. 18, 1986, and grew up in Springfield.
- Stopping the run: An essential cog in a BC defense that ranked fifth nationally in total yards and seventh against the run … Eleven of his 27 tackles last season were behind the line of scrimmage … Showed he can handle double-teams at BC.
- Rushing the passer: Had a career-best three sacks last season, and finished career with nine … Nothing fancy, just hard, powerful pass rush … Once he’s on the ground he’s pretty much out of the play.
- Size/strength/durability: Started 37 straight games despite recurring back issues … Don’t let his sizable gut mislead you. He’s pretty quick in his lateral movements … More of an avalanche than an athlete … Bench-pressed 32 reps (at 225 pounds) at the draft combine.
Sources: National Football League, Globe research, and draft analysts from Pro Football Weekly, Ourlads’, and The War Room.