It’s seems that every year the Patriots enter the NFL draft with one need at the top of their list. Pass rushing. The need to find that consistent “edge rusher” the team has sorely lacked since trading away Chandler Jones prior to the 2016 season. Harold Landry from Boston College could be that guy.
At Boston College, Landry was a one man wrecking crew, with 25 sacks in 38 games. He had his best season as a junior in 2016 with 16.5 of those sacks to go along with 50 tackles, 7 forced fumbles, and an interception.
Landry took a slight step back in 2017, and if he hadn’t he would likely be long gone by the time the Patriots make their first selection at #23 in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft. Now though, he may be there for the taking.
Why he fits Patriots
The Patriots are always looking to get more consistent pressure on the quarterback and Landry’s 4.64 speed gives him the ability to speed rush like crazy. He will beat most tackles to the outside and will quickly close on opposing quarterbacks. The Patriots essentially run a hybrid 3-4, 4-3 system, and they could get Landry in the best possible situations to succeed.
He a great ability to fly off the line and he’s very fluid with his movements. His long strides help him to beat slower moving, although much larger, offensive tackles to the edge and he creates angles that are tough to defend. Landry’s long arms allow him to create strip sacks by pursuing the quarterbacks arms, not just his body. That will also result in many batted balls.
Where he needs to improve
Again though, Landry has to diversify his pass rush. At some point elite tackles will find the best way to defend his speed, and Landry will need a secondary move. Some compare Harold Landry to Vic Beasley, who was similar when entering the draft. Beasley struggled early on to become more than just a speed player, but given the proper guidance he became a high-level pass rusher in the league. Landry may follow a similar path to success. There are also times he was caught coasting and that simply won’t fly in Foxboro.
The Patriots already have edge rushers Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise Jr. coming back and Derek Rivers returning from injury so they could feel that group is good enough without needing to add Landry.
How likely the Pats get him
Whether they will draft him (by choice or if he’s already been snapped up before the select in round 1) the Patriots have looked at Landry and for what it’s worth Head Coach Bill Belichick already hinted that he may be looking towards the Heights this upcoming draft.
“There are always players in New England, but I’d say more players closer to home this year,” Belichick said during Friday’s pre-draft press conference. “Steve [Addazio], B.C. has done a great job of building that program, acquiring talent over there. They have a number of players.”
Patriots defensive line coach Brendan Daly also got a great up-close look at Landry before his Boston College pro day last month, and the pair even watched some film together.
DALY COACHES UP LANDRY: Watch Patriots DLine coach Brendan Daly work with potential first TD pick DE Harold Landry and Noa Merritt. pic.twitter.com/lXwpr4HJzz
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) March 21, 2018
Clearly the Patriots have interest in Landry, it’s just a matter of if the local product is available or not when they pick at 23. Landry himself has also seemed enthused about the possibility of playing in New England.
“He’s (Daly) a very intense guy, you can definitely see the culture of the New England Patriots within him,” he said. “Honestly, it would be an awesome pleasure to go play for that guy and play in New England, but you could definitely see how intense he is and how hard he coaches.”
With Harold Landry, the New England Patriots may be able to once again lead the way defensively in the NFL. That hasn’t been the case for many years, but when the team won three of four Super Bowls in the early 2000’s that was their recipe for success. Tom Brady is now nearing the end of his career, and the Patriots could look to trend in that direction once again. Stockpiling elite talent along the defensive line would not be a bad start, and New England would have a lot to work with both in 2018 and beyond.