Anchor DT Prospect Identified As Potential Fit for Patriots, Per Insider

Getty Leki Fotu could be on the Patriots radar.

There are a handful of solid defensive tackle prospects capable of playing the two-gap nose tackle position that the New England Patriots love. There is one in particular who seems to be getting some attention as it relates to a possible fit with the Patriots.

Leki Fotu is a Hot Commodity

Evan Lazar of CLNS and Pats22 podcast had this to say about Utah’s Leki Fotu:

The massive 21-year-old played four years for Utah where he didn’t put up huge numbers or clean up with individual rewards, but when you’re looking for the kind of interior defensive lineman capable of anchoring down and stopping running lanes on either side of him, Fotu has the look of one of the rare talents who can play this role on an elite level.

That might explain why the Patriots are reportedly amongst a crowd of NFL teams who could be interested in the Tonga native.

Fotu’s Physical Measurables

When someone says Fotu is a big man, that is an understatement. He’s 6’5″ and he weighed in at 330 pounds at the NFL Combine earlier this year. He was the heaviest prospect to weigh in. His arms are 34 1/4 long and his hands are like frying pans at 10 5/8. His size makes the 5.15 40-yard dash time a little more impressive.

If there was a drawback to his NFL Combine experience it was his performance in the bench press. You would expect a man of his size to put up more than 21 reps of the 225-pound bench press, but it wasn’t the case.

Twenty-one reps of 225 pounds is amazing for most people in the world, but to put that total into an NFL-football perspective, consider this: the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald did a whopping 35 reps of the same weight.

Patriots great Wilfork hit 36 reps and at this year’s Combine, Ohio State’s DaVon Hamilton did 33 reps. Perhaps that’s why Fotu isn’t currently projecting as a first-round selection. Here is what NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said about Fotu:

Fotu was put in a position to try to make plays in the Utah scheme, but with his massive frame and natural strength, he’s much more likely to be groomed as a two-gapping, odd-front nose. His athletic ability is fairly impressive for his size, but his impact in the biggest games felt a little overstated after studying tape. He needs to play with better bend and more consistent anchor to squeeze the interior and fulfill his potential as a run-plugger. His draft value could be capped because he’s an early down player who offers no real rush value.

How Fotu’s Style Could Fit with the Patriots

At one point, the Patriots used the 3-4 almost exclusively during the first half of their dynasty. However, during the second half, the team began to employ more four-man fronts. In any case, head coach Bill Belichick seems to prefer the thicker-bodied defensive tackles who specialize in run-stuffing.

Players like Vince Wilfork are at the top of the food chain (no pun intended) when it comes to this position in Patriots history. Most recently, the recently departed Danny Shelton did a solid job establishing a presence on the interior line. Shelton joined former Patriots assistant and now current Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia on a multi-year free-agent deal.

The Patriots signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers brute Beau Allen days later. While Allen projects as the starter, it wouldn’ be unheard of for a promising rookie to push him for playing time in 2020.

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