NEPD Editor: James Christensen
A familiar face will be returning to Gillette Stadium soon, as veteran center Dan Koppen has reportedly signed a contract to stay with the New England Patriots. Koppen was originally selected in the 5th round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
What does the signing mean for the Patriots 2012 NFL Draft strategy?
The 32 year-old Koppen joins an already stocked interior line position. The Patriots currently have four possible centers on the roster (Koppen, Dan Connolly, Nick McDonald, Ryan Wendell) and five others (Robert Gallery, Brian Waters, Logan Mankins, Marcus Cannon, Donald Thomas) that can play guard. Connolly and Wendell have spent time playing both.
With this sort of depth, you could argue that the Patriots almost have enough talent and depth to field two starting offensive line units. Light, Mankins, Koppen, Waters, Vollmer would head the first unit. Solder, Gallery, Connolly, Thomas, and Cannon would make up the second.
Granted, Light and Waters may end up retiring. Mankins is recovering from a torn ACL. Even so, the Patriots have more offensive line depth than they may have ever had in Tom Brady’s career.
So will the Patriots choose to address the center position in the 2012 NFL Draft? At this point, unless a top center prospect falls to the point of absurdity – think Ryan Mallett – I don’t think Bill Belichick chooses a pivot in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Patriots fans should rejoice at that news. Every offensive need filled through free agency gives the Patriots another chance to pick an impact player for their defense.