Chris Long is not the defensive end who will step in and replace Chandler Jones' 12.5 sacks from a year ago, but he definitely is someone who can strengthen this defense though his experience, leadership, work ethic and extended skill set.
Belichick has been exceptionally successful
in bringing in talented veterans who have been showing signs of a decline, as seen in Andre Carter and Randy Moss just to name a few. Long is still an effective pass rusher who uses his strength and fast hands to collapse the pocket and gives other defenders a better shot at the quarterback.
He has a nonstop motor and excels in his poise and patience when setting the edge- which makes him a perfect fit for this New England Defense.
2. WR Chris Hogan
Hogan's numbers over his career don't necessarily blow you away, but I am still confident that he will fit well in the New England offense.
With the Bills last season he hauled in 36 catches for 450 yards and 2 scores, which is impressive given that he did not have fantastic quarterback play and also played through torn ligaments in his wrist in the tail end of the season.
Hogan is a quintessential Patriots receiver, in that his work ethic and effort is what sets him over the edge, and most likely what brought him here this offseason. He is a crisp route runner, illusive, and can line up anywhere on the field.
My guess is he lines up mostly on the outside given that Amendola and Edelman will run the slots. Hogan plays his best football in space, utilizing his double move.
3. DT Terrance Knighton
Knighton will join Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Chris Long, Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich in a very skilled defensive front.
At 6'3 and 355lbs "Pot Roast" will get most of his snaps on early downs where he can stop the run, which he does as well as any nose tackle in the league.
Knighton does have a weight claus in his contract, but he and the team have both voiced their confidence in Knighton's ability to not only lose the weight but keep it off. Knighton is a probowl caliber player and can surprise o-linemen with his quickness given his size.
Along with an elite linebacking core, Knighton and the rest of the Pats' front 7 should be the teams strongest link in the early going of the season with Brady sidelined.