New England Patriots: 5 wishes for the 2022 NFL Draft

Joshua Paschal of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Joshua Paschal of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
John Ridgeway (99) of the Arkansas Razorbacks (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

DT John Ridgeway, Arkansas

If the New England Patriots do draft a smaller, faster linebacker, or add another safety, this change in defensive philosophy won’t work unless they have a defensive line that can occupy blockers and keep the second level clean. Enter John Ridgeway.

In this age of football, Ridgeway is a throwback. Many defensive tackles are one-gap, rush up the field, attacking types. Ridgeway is a true nose tackle, stout at the point of attack, plays two-gap, and can occupy two blockers to allow linebackers to do their job.

Ridgeway’s addition to the defense would allow Davon Godchaux to move to end. Putting Ridgeway between Godchaux and Lawrence Guy could potentially be New England’s best trio for stopping the run, which was a problem for the Patriots last year.

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For the long term, Ridgeway makes plenty of sense as well. Godchaux and Henry Anderson are free agents after the 2022 season. Anderson isn’t a lock to stay on the roster either, despite restructuring his contract. And Guy is approaching his 13th season.

In a year’s time, the D-line will be thin and in need of talent. The Patriots already knocked it out of the park by drafting Christian Barmore last year. Ridgeway would be another building block for the front line as the New England Patriots turn over the unit and build for the future.

Ridgeway should be in the conversation for best two-gap defensive tackle in this year’s class, as many of the DTs ranked ahead of Ridgeway are one-gap penetrators, save for Georgia’s Jordan Davis. The former Bulldog will be gone well before New England’s first round selection, but Ridgeway should still be available in the third to fourth round.