When the Patriots drafted the talented but oft-injured Dominique Easley in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, there were a lot of experts and fans alike who questioned what they were thinking. Easley was a first round grade when healthy; maybe even a top-ten pick, but his previous two seasons ended in injury, one to each knee. Bill Belichick decided that the gamble was worth it at the end of the first round and made the pick, regardless of the numerous red flags. Although Easley didn’t tear any ligaments or cartilage this year, it appears that the knee issues are still relevant and the Patriots placed him on IR yesterday, prematurely ending his first NFL season.
It’s been suggested that this was the plan all along. The Patriots managed Easley’ practices all season and used 2014 as a “red-shirt” year to get him some playing time but also allow him to get healthier. Easley finishes the season having played eight games, recording 6 tackles (three for a loss) one sack and one interception. The game against Chicago was his best outing, when he finished with a sack, tackle, and two assisted tackles. Easley will now have a full offseason to properly rehab his knees and hopefully return to make a big impact in 2015.
Easley was flexible along the line, but the addition of Alan Branch, the return of Sealver Siliga and the resurgence of Vince Wilfork gives the Patriots enough depth to be able to handle the loss of Easley.
Statistics Provided by http://www.pro-football-reference.com/