New England Patriots: Who is Daniel Ekuale and how can he help?

New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale was signed as a free agent a few weeks ago, has played three games, and has notched two sacks thus far. That’s not too bad a start.

Ekuale has had stays in Cleveland and Jacksonville prior to being signed by New England to their practice squad on November 5. He’s just been returned there after the Buffalo win in Week 13.

That game was when he racked up his second sack in his three games played for the Patriots. Are we missing something here? It’s doubtful we are, but the Patriots may be.

New England Patriots Daniel Ekuale has earned a spot on the 53-man roster

Look, this space is no big fan of the New England Patriots usual carousel of players in and out of free agency all season long. Frankly, it’s looked upon as an almost useless exercise.

Yet, from time to time (can’t think of another success right now) they may actually stumble upon someone who can play. In Ekuale’s case, looks like they have.

Ekuale has kicked around a bit in the NFL as noted from Cleveland to Jacksonville and now to New England. He started his NFL career in 2019. He’s not too experienced nor too old at 27-years-old.

Yet, Ekuale seems to have something he does well that many interior defensive linemen can’t, he sacks the quarterback. That’s a very nice asset to any NFL team.

Now, since his production in three games played for the Patriots includes two sacks, one might logically ask, why is he now being assigned back to the practice squad?

On the practice squad, he can be signed by another NFL team and the Patriots will get no compensation at all. In addition, they’ll lose a seemingly influential player.

So in a space that is not reluctant to question (if not criticize)  Patriots personnel moves, let’s ask, what’s going on? Three games, two sacks means production.

New England Patriots defensive line sack statistics

Let’s put this in perspective by asking, which other Patriots defensive linemen have done better in sacking the quarterback than Ekuale?

The fact of the matter is, no Patriots defensive lineman has racked up more sacks than Ekuale this season. One might ask, but Ekuale has only played in three of the 13 games? That’s correct.

His closest competitor is Lawrence Guy with 1.5 sacks and he has played in and started 13 games. Now, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics as the saying goes.

But one thing seems clear, if you want to get sacks from your defensive linemen, then Daniel Ekuale seems like a good bet.

Now, does this mean that he should take snaps from Christian Barmore? That’s a big negative since Barmore is the team’s most impactful defensive tackle/lineman bar none.

It’s in the other snaps that the question has to be raised. Barmore is one of the best on-the-nose defensive tackles in the NFL right now. Is that high praise? It indeed is.

Yet, Ekuale may be the best pure interior defensive line pass-rusher not named Barmore on the Patriots roster. So, here are two suggestions for the Patriots going forward.

First, you should play Christian Barmore on any passing play (rotation or not in place). And, second, you should play Daniel Ekuale on any passing down, as well.

That’s not rocket science, it’s logic. Here’s why it makes sense. First, Barmore collapses NFL pockets maybe already as well as any defensive lineman in the league. He’s a budding superstar,

Second, Ekuale has a knack for sacking the quarterback. Utilizing both at the same time means that the pocket will likely be collapsed by Barmore.

As such, your best chance for a sack by a defensive lineman is by Ekuale. In addition, you also have sack-master par excellence, Matt “The Force” Judon waiting in the wings.

In addition, the multi-faceted star, Kyle Van Noy will be waiting to mop up, as well. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

New England Patriots should play Barmore and Ekuale together

So here are the suggestions for the Patriots: first, activate Daniel Ekuale to the 53-man roster and keep him there before you lose him.

Second, on any passing down, deploy both Barmore and Ekuale on the defensive line with Barmore on the nose and with Judon and Van Noy both in the game. You should expect sacks.

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Daniel Ekuale was a fortunate signing who can contribute now and can make the New England Patriots pass-rush even more effective than it already is.

Ekuale’s two sacks in three games are not accidental. They’re an indication of a talent that can be a crucial asset to a team, a team that can challenge for a Super Bowl title.

You should just give it a try, New England Patriots. It will work. For crying out loud, it already has. Play Ekuale and Barmore together. The rest will be history.