If you believe the numbers that Football Outsiders have compiled, then it’s a good thing the Patriots re-signed nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
The Web site is putting together divisional off-season reviews, and the good people over there have tagged linebackers — not surprisingly — as the team’s top remaining need.
But where most people around here are looking for an upgrade at the position to boost the pass-rush, the Outsiders see the run defense as a major problem too, even as the Patriots ranked a respectable 13th in that category last year. The site’s got New England 26th in Adjusted Line Yards, and only one Patriot ranked among the Top 80 in run defeats.
That player was Wilfork. As for the rest, Adalius Thomas was called “practically invisible” and Tully Banta-Cain’s 2009 season was dismissed as “something of a fluke.”
I think everyone is expecting the Patriots to address the front seven in the draft. But this might shed some light on why getting run-stoppers could be as much of a priority as pass rushers. I’d argue you need to invest to get rushers — since it is considered a premium skill — but it’s obvious there are needs across the board in the front seven.