Combine: Limited edge group still boasts talent

INDIANAPOLIS – The defensive end spot has been a high-level need in New England for more than a year.

That led to the Patriots using two of four picks in last April’s draft at the position, including their top overall selection on third-round prospect Derek Rivers.

But when Rivers missed his rookie season with a torn ACL suffered in training camp, trusted veteran Rob Ninkovich retired in training camp and trade-addition Kony Ealy failed to find a fit in Foxborough, it left the position very much undermanned throughout 2017.

Other than now-established veteran Trey Flowers and relatively impressive rookie fourth-round pick Deatrich Wise Jr., New England spent most of the season with a rotating cast of characters on the edge of the defensive front. The lack of talent and depth at the spot hindered the unit both in terms of stopping the run and generating any sort of consistent pass rush.

While Rivers’ return this summer will potentially add to the group, there is little doubt that defensive end remains a top need for the Patriots heading into yet another draft.

Certainly there is generally some overlapping or interpretation in the pre-draft process in the search for edge players. One team’s defensive end is another’s outside linebacker. That’s again true in regards to a group of 2018 Combine edge prospects that

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