NFL DRAFT

Seven for the 2019 Draft: DTs – Early, middle and late prospects for Patriots – Some plug and plays

(Mike Comer/Getty Images)

As we count down to the 2019 NFL draft, we’ll take the measure of the Patriots by position and offer up six prospects at each spot who should be available early (first round), middle (second day) and late (third day). We'll finish up with what is likely a position(s) of need, the defensive interior.

POSITIONAL PREVIEWS

Offense

Quarterbacks
Running backs
Tight ends
Receivers
Tackles
Guards/centers

Defense

Edge
Interior
Linebackers
Defensive backs
Special teams

THE SKINNY

Lawrence Guy has been outstanding for the Patriots and is signed through 2020, but the other tackle spot — the nose tackle — has been a constant problem the past few seasons. Malcom Brown flashed, but was largely middling before signing with New Orleans. Danny Shelton was a huge disappointment and is a free agent. The Patriots likely got a steal in Mike Pennel from the Jets, but he's been suspended a few times and there is a dearth of young talent at the position, especially against the run. I would expect New England to hit the interior at least once, and maybe twice in this draft.

POSSIBLE EARLY TARGETS

Dexter Lawrence, Clemson (6-4 ½, 338, 5.04)

If you want a young Vince Wilfork with a little more explosion, this is your guy.  Just a massive human being, and there's not much fat on him. Does everything the Patriots ask of their nose tackles, from holding up to double teams to pushing the pocket. Finished with 131 tackles (18 for loss) and 10 sacks. A long-armed guy (34 ¾ inches) who put up 36 reps on the bench press. Also compares to Haloti Ngata. Would be a perfect Patriots pick. He's better right now than Brown was last year.

Jeffrey Simmons, Mississippi State (6-3 ½, 305)