Sebastian Vollmer, OT – After missing most of last season, Vollmer’s return to health and the RT spot has been the Patriots biggest addition to last year’s team. It’s clear after watching Vollmer this year that he is one of if not the best right tackle in football and could be on his way to an All-Pro season. Vollmer has faced some very good passer rushers to this point in the season and shut them down. Look no further than the Rams game where he was matched up with DE Chris Long and dominated him. Long was invisible all game. Vollmer has solidified the offensive line which in training camp was a big question mark. SeaBass is a free agent at the end of the season and the Patriots are going to have to pony up and pay him.
Nate Solder, OT – While Solder hasn’t been as rock solid as Vollmer has, he has done everything you can ask and more of a player protecting Tom Brady’s blindside for the first time. His athleticism and ability to move are so evident on sweeps and screen passes, as he is usually the first lineman out in front. Fans and media berated Solder all pre-season for his play and how he will be a liability. He has answered all those questions with his play and looks like one of the building blocks of the Patriots future.
Logan Mankins, OG – Mankins has battled injuries throughout the season and has already missed three games. Even when he has been on the field his play hasn’t been up to the level expected of the All-Pro guard. That’s not to say he hasn’t been alright, he has but it’s clear the injuries and recovery from knee surgery has effected his play. The Patriots decided to keep Mankins out of the last two games before the bye to give him extra time to heal, hopefull it helps because even though they haven’t missed him yet the Patriots are a better team when Mankins is on the field.
Dan Connolly, OG – The original plan probably was to play Connolly at center with Brian Waters expected back, but that changed quickly. In the last two season’s he has been shuffled between guard and center and has performed adequately. He has struggled at times to pass block and has missed his share of blocks in the run game. On a whole he is a solid offensive lineman who can play multiple positions. As he gets healthier in the second half, results should be better.
Ryan Wendell, OC – The only player on the entire Patriots roster who has played 100.0% of the snaps this season. He won a heated training camp battle to secure the job and has performed very well during the first half. Wendell is a bit undersized but uses technique and smarts to win his one on one battles. There haven’t been many snap issues with QB Tom Brady. One of the biggest breakout performers of the first half.
Donald Thomas, OG – I didn’t have Thomas making the final roster in my projections and I am glad I got that wrong now. With Logan Mankins banged up most of the first half Thomas has had to play extended duty. With him able to play his natural position of LG, he has looked much better than he did in the pre-season. He hasn’t been as good as Mankins, but for a reserve lineman he has done his job and has shown the coaching staff he can be relied on when needed.
Marcus Cannon, OT – Fully recovered from his cancer diagnosis, Cannon has been used as the #3 OT this season. He got playing time early in the season, but with Vollmer being 100% he has returned to strictly back-up duty. While his in game regular season reps, were much better than anything we saw in the pre-season, he still has a ways to go. There are still questions as to if he will be a OT or OG moving forward.
Nick McDonald, OL – Has only played 13% of the snaps, mostly at guard. His performance has been a bit uneven, but he has shown he can play any position on the offensive line and adds depth to a solid starting unit. Probably needs to get a little stronger to increase his chances of developing into a starter.