Since the loss of pro bowl nose tackle Vince Wilfork, teams have been running at will through the middle of the Patriots defense.
To fill that void, the Patriots made a deal with the Eagles at the NFL trading deadline on Tuesday by acquiring the 6-foot-2, 330 pound nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga for a fifth round pick.
Sopoaga (SOAP-oh-AHH-gah), 32, is in his tenth season in the NFL, mostly with the San Francisco 49ers as a starting nose tackle/defensive-tackle. He signed with Philadelphia in the off-season and has started every game this season.
Sopoaga has several strengths. He has a hard-to-move big body and will stuff the run. He’s strong and plays with an attitude, something the patriots could benefit from on the d-line. He will clog those holes left by the loss of Wilfork.
Sopoaga was a key member of San Fran’s vicious defense last season. Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman would not have had the success they had last year without Sopoaga clogging those holes.
There may be some similarities to Wilfork, but he is not Vince. Sopoaga does have weaknesses. He will not generate much of a pass rush and can be slow at the point of attack.
With that said, he’s not coming to New England to rush the passer. He’s here to do one thing, stop the run and that’s what he does well.
Sopoaga entered the NFL as a fourth-round (104th pick overall) draft pick by San Francisco in 2004 out of Hawaii. He was signed by Philadelphia as an unrestricted free agent from the 49ers on March 12, 2013. He played at both defensive tackle and nose tackle during his career. He started in seven of the first eight games of the season for the Eagles and registered 18 total tackles.
Sopoaga has played in 133 NFL games with 87 starts and has 465 total tackles, 7½ sacks, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He also played in five postseason games with three starts with 17 total tackles and one sack. Sopoaga also has one NFL reception when he caught an 18-yard pass.
Sopoaga will stop the run and clog the running lanes. He will allow other Patriots defenders to stunt during passing downs.
This is an excellent trade for the Patriots.
Bryan Souza is a new contributor to Patriots Insider. He has extensive scouting knowledge of several college and pro teams throughout the country.