The New England Patriots made the trade deadline’s only deal, as they acquired a new starter on defense for the second straight season. The Patriots shipped a fifth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for a sixth and big defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga, who projects to fill Vince Wilfork’s role as a run-stopper and block-swallower. At this stage of his career, Sopoaga is nothing more than a decent player, and he is only effective when used in a role that accentuates his ability to eat up blocks and stuff the run. He played in an unfriendly scheme with the Philadelphia Eagles, which is why they were willing to deal away the veteran for such a low price. Sopoaga really fits the Patriots well, and he’ll likely just play a two-down role and come off the field for pass rushing DT Chris Jones on third downs.
In short, Sopoaga was a really solid deadline addition for the New England Patriots, because they are in a position to use the DT right and in a way that best helps both sides. There are always connections in the NFL, and it’s interesting to hear that Sopoaga had a previous Patriots connection. According to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, Bill Belichick stated that the Patriots were prepared to draft Sopoaga in the 2004 NFL Draft and had the Hawaii product squarely on their radar.
“We talked about taking him, and we were going to take him and we were just a round late. But we’d already taken Vince, obviously. But you can never have too many defensive linemen. That was kind of the conversation. He was right there. We were ready to take him. We said, ‘Well, you know, we can get him one round earlier.’ We’d already taken a couple guys, and we probably waited a little bit too long on that one.”
Very interesting stuff right there from BB, and Isaac Sopoaga wouldn’t be drafted until the fourth round, where he was the 104th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers. The rest is history, as Sopoaga would go on to be a very productive player on the defensive line. He never earned any major accolades or made much of an impact on the stat sheet, but he was one of the league’s best run-stuffers in his prime. Like most run-stopping DLs, Sopoaga did his job without much fanfare, and he was definitely excellent at his job during his peak years. As a result, Belichick believes that he would have been worth of a second-round pick.
“A pretty good fourth-round pick, I’d say. If you knew what his career was going to be, he could have gone in the second. He couldn’t have gone in the first ahead of some people who were drafted in that round, obviously. I’d say he’s had a real good career. To be a fourth-round pick that’s done what he’s done, I’d say not too many of them have done that, right? So, I think it’s been pretty good.”