Outside New England, few football fans will be able to identify Trey Flowers before Jadeveon Clowney.
Flowers is the former fourth-round pick whose numbers and production have been solid although not exactly eye-popping.
Clowney was the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, representing the prototypical pass rusher so many teams (and their fan bases) yearn for.
But while appearing on Monday's Dale & Keefe Show former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich made a strong case for why the Patriots should prioritize locking up free-agent-to-be Flowers instead of going after Clowney, who is also slated to become a free agent after this season.
"If you're going to spend for Clowney I would rather give Trey the money because he's been here, he's done it," Ninkovich said.
Despite the differences in their teams' defensive philosophies, Flowers' numbers aren't that far off from Clowney. The Patriots defensive end finished the regular season with 7 1/2 sacks and 32 total tackles, compared to the Texans' star's nine sacks and 38 total tackles.
"They have a little bit more pin your ears back mentality in their rushers," said Ninkovich of the Texans' system Clowney plays in. "The Patriots defense is more, 'OK, let's keep them in the pocket. Let's not let them hurt us outside the pocket. Let's make them work for everything they get. Don't give them anything easy, like a run up for a first down.' That's why when you saw all those broken plays earlier in the season, that's just uncharacteristic of the Patriots because they're taught that's not how we rush. You don't rush past the quarterback. You don't open up these big passing lanes in pass rush. You collapse the pocket. You condense the pocket. You make them uncomfortable and make them throw from a condensed pocket. That's the Patriots-type mentality."