The New England Patriots have been very busy this offseason. The latest in a long list of moves came as a restructure for DT Vince Wilfork that could keep him in Foxboro for the next three years. However, the Patriots still need to get younger at the defensive tackle position and will almost certainly draft one this May. One player to keep in mind for the Patriots is former Arizona State Sun Devils DT Will Sutton.
Sutton, who is projected to be selected somewhere between rounds two and three of the draft, has some serious upside for an NFL team. He can defend the run, excels rushing the passer, has a very high motor when playing at an ideal weight and is a very smart football player. All of these characteristics can be observed watching his game film throughout the 2012 season. You may ask yourself why then he is not a first-round prospect? Well, there are really only two reasons for that.
Firstly, he is a tad undersized in terms of height and a bit heavy for the position. At 6-foot-1 weighing 322-pounds, he is not the ideal build for a defensive tackle which surely has caused his draft stock to slip. While there is nothing that can be done about his height, his weight is something that was not a problem until the 2013 season began. Despite not wanting to, Sutton agreed to put on weight prior to the 2013 season after being coerced by the team’s coaching staff.
Doing so clearly affected his play, as he looked much slower and seemingly had much less stamina compared to the season before. The statistics back this up as well. In 2012 for example, he registered 63 total tackles, including 23.5 for loss, 13 sacks, five pass deflections and three forced fumbles. The next year, while he did not have a bad season by any means, the stats dipped considerably. He totaled 48 tackles with 13.5 for a loss, four sacks, three pass deflections, zero forced fumbles and one interception despite the weight gain.
If Sutton can get below 300-pounds — which is certainly possible given his height — he could be a draft day steal in the second or perhaps even the third round for the Patriots. He would also have the added benefit of not having to contribute right away, barring an injury or setback to assumed starters Tommy Kelly and Wilfork. Sutton would then be able to take his time getting back to his ideal playing weight. Doing so could allow him to revert back to when he was one of the best defensive tackles in all of college football in 2012.