In three years, the Patriots have lost Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy on the edge. Both excelled in the Patriots' all-around system and the team really couldn't ask much more from them.
And the Patriots haven't readily replaced either.
That might need to change in this draft.
There is a lot of enthusiasm that Chase Winovich can grab a full-time spot on the edge. He certainly flashed with his pass rush, but later in the season, when he received more snaps on early downs, his two-way ability was lacking. Obviously, there's hope he takes a leap going into Year 2, but with little to no offseason, that's tough to count on.
John Simon is solid as a journeyman outside linebacker. Shilique Calhoun has always been a high-potential and starter-type if he can stay healthy.
Deatrich Wise has shown he has a low ceiling as just a pass rusher who gets pushed around in the run game. Maybe this is the year Derek Rivers stays healthy.
So, yeah, the Patriots could use some pop on the edge in their front seven. The good news is this draft offers players with at least some special skills until the middle rounds. The bad news? Beyond the top four players, it's hard to tell whether you're going to get a Year 1 starter or even an eventual full-time player.
This might just be a year, like 2012 when the Patriots jumped up to get Chandler Jones, where New England finds the need to take an elite player, including one player who looks like the spitting image of Jones.
Ranking and evaluating the top edge players in this draft from a Patriots' perspective:
Chase Young, Ohio State (6-5, 264, n/a, Round 1): The most talented player regardless of position in this draft. Has basically no body fat. Powerful, rock-built player. Explosive through contact but not an elite bender or speed rusher. More along the lines of Nick Bosa, who was better. Had 30.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in career. Not as talented as Jadeveon Clowney, but is a little bit of a better competitor. Sky is the limit if he has the inner drive.
K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU (6-3, 254, n/a, Round 1):