Interior Defensive Line: Vince Wilfork, Lawrence Guy
Vince Wilfork was an absolute force for the New England Patriots, and the stats say that the back half of his career was better than the first half. One of the best run stuffers in the game, Wilfork was an All-Pro for three straight years. He made the Second-team in 2010/2011 and the First-team in 2012. He bookended his storied Patriots career by being part of the team’s Super Bowl 49 win.
More from Patriots All-Time Lists
- Big Game misery: New England Patriots 5 Super Bowl losses ranked
- New England Patriots: Ranking the top 5 defenses of the 21st century
- New England Patriots: Ranking team’s six Super Bowl victories
- New England Patriots: 5 NFL careers even Bill Belichick couldn’t save
- New England Patriots: Top 5 NFL careers Bill Belichick resurrected
The quality drops off considerably after Wilfork, but Lawrence Guy has proved himself to be a key member of the Patriots defense in recent years. Guy has been on the team since 2017 and since then has been quietly productive.
Honorable Mentions: None
EDGE: Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones
Rob Ninkovich is one of the most underrated players the Patriots have had during this run. Nink was extremely effective both as a pass rusher and a run defender, as from 2010-2016 he racked up 45 sacks and 52 tackles for loss.
In terms of pure talent, the Patriots haven’t had a better pass rusher than Chandler Jones since they traded him to the Arizona Cardinals before the start of the 2016 season. Jones was drafted by the Patriots in 2012 and totaled 36 sacks in four seasons with the team, and made a Pro Bowl appearance in 2015.
Honorable Mentions: Trey Flowers
Linebacker: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins
Dont’a Hightower has been the heart of the New England Patriots defense for years now. Hightower is one of the most important Patriots players of the 2010s, as he seems to have a knack for making the biggest plays when it matters the most. The Patriots don’t keep just anyone around for this long, but Hightower is truly a standout player who is still making an impact for this team.
Jamie Collins is one of the most versatile defenders the Patriots have had. He gets to the quarterback, blows up the run, and can make plays in pass coverage. His totals in 62 games as a Patriot (and counting): 8 interceptions, 21 passes defended, 13 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, 16.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss.
Kyle Van Noy was a second round pick by the Detroit Lions in 2014. He did next to nothing for them, but when the Patriots traded for him halfway through the 2016 season they clearly saw something that no one else did. Van Noy has been a key contributor for the Patriots since they acquired him.