Josh Uche was among the best-graded rookie edge-rushers, but the stats don’t tell the whole story

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New England Patriots EDGE Josh Uche barely played in 2021, but when he did, he made a big impact. The pass-rushing specialist received a 75.1 grade from Pro Football Focus, a digital scouting service, for his work in 2020.

That grade is good enough for second among rookie edge rushers behind just the Washington Football Team’s Chase Young, the 2020 second-overall pick. While it’s good company for Uche, it’s important to provide the necessary context. Young earned that grade on 770 defensive snaps (73.7%) in 15 games played in 2020. Uche played just 178 defensive snaps (17.5%) in nine games played in 2020. Not only was Young available for more games, but he was also able to make a greater impact on every down when compared to Uche, the 60th overall pick in 2020.

Uche’s role was nothing more than a substitutional player, albeit a good one.

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In college, Uche did much of the same, playing just 55.6% of snaps in his senior season at Michigan. He also played in a deep group of linebackers, and Uche contributed largely as a pass-rusher.

If Uche shows signs of development, particularly in the run game and in coverage, the Patriots are sure to give him more snaps, but they didn’t make it easier for him to get on the field. New England added edge players Kyle Van Noy and Matthew Judon in free agency to a group which already includes Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings and, at times, Dont’a Hightower. Uche will have to take a massive leap to compete for snaps in such a deep group.