After winning Super Bowl 51 in dramatic fashion, the Patriots found themselves with a ton of cap room this offseason to improve a team that already proved it was good enough to win a championship. The rich got richer as New England was able to bring in some premier talent in free agency, which is something this organization usually shies away from. This defense has everything from young talent to veteran leadership, and they're the main reason why the Patriots head into 2017 as heavy favorites to repeat as champions.

CB

The Patriots were set at cornerback last season with Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan both playing extremely well, but one of New England's biggest moves of the offseason was signing Stephon Gilmore to play the Logan Ryan role next year, which could be a major upgrade at the position.

Eric Rowe will round out one of the NFL's best trio of cornerbacks.

S

While Patrick Chung struggled a bit last year, he's been a very dependable safety during his time and New England and should bounce back in 2017. Devin McCourty is one of the league's most underrated players as he has such an enormous impact on the Patriots' secondary. Duron Harmon also provides solid pass coverage as a third safety in New England's dime packages.

LB

Dont'a Hightower made one of the biggest plays of Super Bowl 51 with his incredible strip sack of Matt Ryan that really turned the game around. Hightower is rare in his ability to defend the run, drop back into coverage, and rush the passer at a high level. The rest of the Patriots' LB rotation isn't super intimidating, but adding a solid veteran like former Jet David Harris could have a positive impact.

DL

New England had the fourth-best run defense last season, according to Football Outsiders, and defensive tackles Alan Branch and Malcolm Brown's dominance up the middle was the key to their success in stuffing the run.

The Patriots were aggressive in bringing in talent at the edge defender position this offseason trading for Kony Ealy, and spending two of their four draft picks on defensive ends.

Trey Flowers started to look like a legit pass rusher with seven sacks last season, so they just need one of those offseason additions to be productive on the opposite side of Flowers.

Bill belichick won two Super Bowls as a defensive coordinator before he started hoisting Lombardi Trophies as a head coach, and he looks to have another solid unit in 2017.

If one of their young edge defenders can step up this season, this unit won't have a single weakness.

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