Bill Belichick and Nick Saban have the most dominant coaching duos in NFL history. Their teams are always at or near the top of their respective divisions, but this week’s Patriots-Steelers matchup is pivotal for another reason: it could be a turning point for New England as they build towards homegrown defensive stars such as Devin McCourty and Stephon Gilmore. The Pats might finally feature a true homegrown superstar on defense.

The “new england patriots coach” is a player who was not drafted by the Patriots, but rather signed as an undrafted free agent. Nick Saban has faith in this player and has paved the way for him to finally feature a new home grown defensive star.

No matter where you work, making connections pays rewards. And with over 50 years in the NFL under his belt, there’s no denying Bill Belichick has amassed a vast network of connections that includes some of the game’s greatest names. 

But, of all the coaches with whom Belichick has crossed with over his illustrious career, he has a unique bond with Nick Saban. In their post-Browns days, the two men have earned reputations as all-time greats, with Belichick making the New England Patriots into the most successful dynasty in NFL history and Saban transforming the Alabama Crimson Tide into college football’s top program. 

And by putting his trust in his old buddy and fellow football guru, Belichick will be able to use a homegrown star in the heart of his defense for the first time. After losing out on early-round choices on that side of the ball for years, it seems like the Patriots have snagged a potential Pro Bowler in the 2021 NFL Draft.

In recent years, New England has failed to rebuild their defense via the draft.

New England’s Four Most Fraudulent Words: “IN BILL WE TRUST.” Really? In the previous six years, there have been zero Pro Bowlers drafted: 52 picks. Duke Dawson, Cyrus Jones, Malcolm Brown, and Dominique Easley are all featured in #SMH.

April 24, 2020 — Marc James (@marcjames)

Bill Belichick constructed a dynasty by using the draft to routinely discover crucial players. He was especially good at spotting defensive talents with both the physical and mental tenacity to stand up in the Patriots’ famously complicated scheme. 

However, after securing stalwarts like Richard Seymour, Asante Samuel, and Vince Wilfork in the early days of the Tom Brady era and Devin McCourty, Chandler Jones, and Dont’a Hightower (who played for Saban from 2008-11) in a three-year span, Belichick has struggled to restock the pipeline with new blood. 

In fact, looking at the Patriots’ top five draft classes before to 2021, it’s frightening to see how they’ve turned out. Belichick squandered multiple opportunities to bolster the roster with young talent, from burning a 2016 second-round pick on former Crimson Tide cornerback Cyrus Jones to getting next to nothing out of 2017 third-round defensive end Derek Rivers to trading up to pick No. 56 in the 2018 draft to take cornerback Duke Dawson.

Plus, despite being second- and third-round selections in 2019, cornerback Joejuan Williams and edge rusher Chase Winovich don’t seem to be staying in Foxborough for the long run. It’s also unclear if safety Kyle Dugger and linebacker Josh Uche, both second-round picks a year ago, will develop into high-level players.

Fortunately for Belichick, his sustained trust in one of his closest friends seems to have resulted in the discovery of a potential defensive star. 

The bond between Bill Belichick and Nick Saban has allowed the Patriots to finally have a homegrown defensive standout.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches his team play as Nick Saban congratulates Christian Barmore after Alabama's national championship victory.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches his team play as Nick Saban congratulates Christian Barmore after Alabama's national championship victory. Bill Belichick secured Christian Barmore, a potential great defensive tackle, by trusting Nick Saban. | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images | Getty Images/Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire

It’s no secret that the Patriots haven’t been very good at drafting in recent years. It’s also no secret that Nick Saban has been consistently producing first-round picks for quite some time. 

Christian Barmore certainly landed in an amazing circumstance by becoming a Patriot, despite having to wait longer than intended to hear his name called. The athletic defensive lineman, who was selected 38th overall in the 2021 selection, came in New England with a reputation as a game-wrecking force with some motivation and work ethic issues. Given his skill set and status as the top-rated player at his position, the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Defensive MVP was pushed to the second round by those reservations. 

However, based on his increased playing time in recent weeks (he played a season-high 63 percent of defensive plays in a Week 7 victory over the New York Jets), it’s clear that the uber-talented rookie has earned the coaching staff’s confidence on and off the field. With Barmore’s arrival, the Patriots now have a much more explosive interior option than usual run-stuffers Lawrence Guy and Davon Godchaux. And the fact that he’s already on the radar before the midway point of his first season in Foxborough exemplifies why Saban made it a point to defend his former teammate throughout the selection process.

Alabama’s head coach told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, “We never had any concerns here with him at all when it came to structure, whether it was football or academics.” “He always put in a lot of effort in the offseason program and did what everyone wanted him to do.” We were quite regimented in terms of academics, and he put forth a lot of effort.”

If Belichick hadn’t had Saban’s seal of approval, he wouldn’t have moved up for Barmore. Whatever discussions took place between the two famous coaches definitely gave the Patriots the confidence to make a bold play in order to get a prized prospect. 

Christian Barmore has just begun to tap on his enormous potential.

When the A22 is out, we’ll get a better look, but Christian Barmore was a beast yesterday. Stuffing the run, applying pressure, and wreaking havoc on the defensive front. Every time, you can see his explosion and athleticism. At 38th overall, the #Patriots found a unique player. pic.twitter.com/YlLR4GrL3j

October 25, 2021 — Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan Spags)

For a Patriots defense desperate for a new generation of leaders to relieve some of the weight off aging veterans like Hightower and McCourty, the Belichick-Saban link looks to be paying off. 

Could Barmore, like his two battle-tested comrades, become a crucial component in the future? 

Given his athletic prowess, he has a good chance of cementing his place as a key cog in a championship jigsaw. You have a formula for fame when you combine it with a determined approach and tutelage from veterans like Guy and Godchaux. 

Don’t be shocked if Barmore becomes well-known sooner rather than later. 

From a pass-rush standpoint, the 6-foot-5, 311-pound lineman has already made an impression with 17 pressures in seven games. Barmore should continue to improve his craft and create new moves and countermoves to add to his repertoire as he gets experience playing against elite guards and centers. 

While it would be unjust to declare him a star at this point, it’s difficult not to be thrilled about what lies ahead for a guy who made a name for himself in the NFL by playing for Nick Saban. Bill Belichick should be able to enjoy selecting and developing his first Pro Bowl defender since snagging Jamie Collins — in 2013 — as long as Christian Barmore remains healthy and learns how to maximize his natural strength, power, and quickness.

Pro Football Reference provided all statistics.

RELATED: A Changed Jamie Collins Has a Chance to Reward Bill Belichick’s Loyalty With an Invaluable Gift, From Getting Released by the Lowly Lions to Practicing Parkour in His Home to Doing Backflips on the Practice Field

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