Profiling New England’s Potential Offensive Line Reserves in 2013

ROOKIE CANDIDATES:

OT Elvis Fisher (Missouri)

Elvis Fisher joined the Missouri Tigers in 2007, redshirting before starting the following 40 games from 2008-2010 at left tackle, being named a First-Team Freshman All-American in 2008 and an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in both 2009 and 2010. Fisher was regarded as a draftable prospect prior to his 2011 campaign, when he ruptured his patellar tendon in his left knee, forcing him to miss the entire season and apply for a medical hardship, which resulted in Fisher returning for a sixth year of eligibility in 2012, playing well despite missing some time due to a September knee injury; following the season, he was invited to the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game. He finished his career having been named a team captain in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons, but ultimately went undrafted, likely due to a combination of his age and injury history.

New England evidently saw something in Fisher, however, offering him a $7,500 signing bonus to join the team and guaranteeing another $7,500 of his 2013 base salary. Fisher is an intelligent, well-spoken prospect with an intriguing combination of size (6’5”, 296) and athleticism (5.13 in the 40-yard dash); he would be an attractive practice squad option if he does not make the final roster.

OG Josh Kline (Kent St.)

Kline redshirted as a freshman in 2008 before securing a reserve role with the Golden Flashes as a redshirt freshman in 2009; following that, he recorded eight starts as a redshirt sophomore before taking over a full-time starting role with the team in 2011, making seven starts at right tackle before transitioning to right guard for the final five games of the season. In 2012, he primarily played left guard, lining up next to left tackle Brian Winters, an eventual third-round selection of the New York Jets; Kline’s senior season was productive enough to earn him a Second-Team All-MAC selection as well as an invitation to the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game.

He was not invited to the NFL Combine, but impressed at Kent St.’s Pro Day, measuring in at just under 6’3” and 307 pounds, then running the 40-yard dash in 5.12 seconds, with relatively impressive times in the three-cone drill (7.66) and short shuttle (4.59). On tape, Kline’s thick build and aggressive demeanor stand out; those attributes, combined with his unexpected movement skills, could make him difficult for New England to cut.

OG Chris McDonald (Michigan St.)

The brother of current Patriots swing reserve Nick McDonald, Chris McDonald made 39 starts at right guard for the Spartans, being named an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection as a senior by both the conference’s coaches and the media. McDonald has intriguing physical tools; he measured in at 6’4” and 300 pounds at Michigan St.’s pro day before running the 40-yard dash in 5.00 seconds and recording 31 repetitions on the bench press, with above-average numbers in the three-cone drill (7.57) seconds and short shuttle (4.64 seconds.)

However, those numbers don’t always translate to on-field production, as McDonald appears to have some trouble anchoring against bull rushers and does not look particular fast or explosive in space on tape. McDonald’s bloodlines and his collegiate experience should help him compete for a spot on New England’s practice squad, but it appears unlikely that he will be able to secure a place on the final roster, as his physical skills are only adequate on tape and he was restricted to right guard throughout his college career, preventing him from demonstrating the versatility that the Patriots prize in their offensive line reserves.

C Matt Stankiewitch (Penn St.)

It was easy to connect Stankiewitch to the Patriots during the pre-draft process based on his experience playing under Penn St. head coach Bill O’Brien, who served as New England’s offensive coordinator in 2011 after spending the previous four seasons as an offensive assistant. Because the Nittany Lions implemented much of the same cadences and offensive line calls New England uses, Stankiewitch should have a gentler learning curve than the other incoming rookies on the offensive line, which may help him secure a spot on either the final roster or the practice squad. Another factor which may help Stankiewitch is his versatility; during his time at Penn St., he made fifteen starts at guard and twelve at center.

In order to earn a spot with the team in 2013, Stankiewitch will have to show that his lack of ideal size (6’3”, 302) and athleticism (5.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 7.90-second three-cone drill, 4.96-second short shuttle) will not prevent him from being able to contribute in the NFL. However, New England is relatively thin at center, meaning Stankiewitch may face less competition than a rookie guard or center; realistically, the Patriots have just three other players at the position: starter Ryan Wendell, starting right guard Dan Connolly (who previously started at center), and swing reserve Nick McDonald.

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Tags: New England Patriots, NFL

10 Responses to “Profiling New England’s Potential Offensive Line Reserves in 2013”

  1. Stephen S says:

    I’m finding myself more excited about the DL then the OL this year how about everybody else

    • Stephen S says:

      To me the most exciting things on the OL is the rookies, Markus Zusevics and Marcus Cannons role

  2. MaineMan says:

    While Haslam’s Rutgers connection makes for good copy, it seems unlikely that it’s very near the top of the list of reasons why the Pats picked him up. His – and Tyronne Green’s – experience in San Diego’s (now former) man/power-blocking scheme is probably much more relevant. The Pats have been running mostly a zone/stretch scheme with some occasional man-blocking, but the defense may be facing man/power schemes against Atlanta, Cinci, Denver, Miami (2x) and the Jets (2x) that are similar to what SDG ran in 2012. This is assuming that the teams listed above haven’t changed things up for 2013. The same may also apply to Svitek a bit as he’s coming out of the Falcons man/power scheme, though he had prior experience in Kansas City.

    Anyway, the defense will need to practice against man/power schemes through OTAs and Camp, while the Pats offensive starters will need to be practicing their own Stretch/Zone concepts. So, Haslam, Green and Svitek may all be effectively mere “scout team temps”.

    The other thing is that (IIRC), the Pats were scouting potential late-round OL fairly heavily for the 2009 (Green) and 2010 (Haslam) drafts and may have even had pre-draft workouts with both these guys. The Pats seem to tend to continue to follow the NFL careers of draft prospects they’ve been interested in and, thus, may have some pretty good “book” on both them.

    Also, Haslam was part of the Rutgers OL during a rare period under Schiano when the offense was actually pretty decent. Usually the Rutgers offense kinda sucked while the defense was usually good to very good.

    I mean, it’s also entirely possible that BB had several appropriate scout team OL bodies to choose from but picked “the Rutgers guy” just to screw with people’s heads.

    • MatthewJones says:

      MaineMan: Very thoughtful comment. It’s certainly possible that linemen such as Haslam and Greene were brought in to aid in preparation, although based on the strength of the Rutgers connection, I’d also venture that there was a higher comfort level with a player such as Haslam relative to one of the other available options, simply because Bill Belichick had access to more of his former teammates, who could provide a better idea of what the team was getting in Haslam relative to another reserve. Lately, I’ve been thinking that Svitek will make the team, mostly because the team would assume $500,000 in dead money by releasing him.

      • MaineMan says:

        Thanks!

        WRT Svitek, I’d agree that the Pats likely signed him as a “keeper” based on the $375 guarantee + $125k signing bonus, but, with $10M+ in available cap space and no further truly major expenditures on the horizon, if other options turn out to be better for them, they could easily absorb that $500k and probably wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

        WRT Haslam/Rutgers – It’s hard to know exactly when the Schiano-BB connection began to develop into what it is today. Stevie must’ve started there in, what, 2009? That was Haslam’s (and McCourty’s) last year there. Also, as I speculated (and my memory and records aren’t entirely clear on this), the Pats may have been looking at a lot of potential Day-3 OL prospects out of the 2010 draft class, and Haslam may have been one of the guys they scouted heavily.

        If so, (and, actually, YOU could probably verify this if you have access to NEPD Pre-draft Contact lists for prior years) the “book” they built on Haslam back then, and have likely added to since, may well have been much more of a factor than BB’s current connection with Schiano. The Pats seem to scout the Shrine Game as intensely as they do the Senior Bowl (Vollmer, Ninkovich and a fairly high number of other current/former Pats came out of the SG). Haslam, IIRC, showed up pretty well during the 2010 SG Week (as did Mike Kafka, Zac Robinson and Robert Malone), so that may have been the start of the Pats’ interest. OTOH, they were also scouting McCourty out of that same draft class, perhaps based on their observations of his twin brother, Jason, who’d come out the previous year.

        In any case, there’s enough reason there to believe that the Pats’ scouting interest in, and book on, Haslam may have started well before BB and Schiano became buddies and that his recent acquisition may have little to do with that or the current interest in former Rutgers defenders.

        • Seth says:

          I am pretty familiar with Haslam. A couple of things missed by just looking at “pro-day” numbers is the comment about how athletic he may be. In his Sr. season with Rutgers, one of the game day covers was a story on Haslam called “The Athlete”. You could see all season, he and A. Davis pulling from their OT spots. His poor numbers in the 40 and cones was due to a tweeked hamstring. It is why he didn’t even attempt a 2nd run. His first NFL start (after missing his entire 2nd year due to a MCL) was against Pitt last year at LT. Was awarded the offensive Game ball for locking down that left side.
          SD decided to go with all big bodies this year and had no plans for a 305lb OT.
          NE Pats were looking at Haslam since his draft day and made the call to try to sign him as an UDFA as well as many other teams. Jags just made the best offer. NE also called for him to tryout last year but he had literally just agreed to go out to Oakland just hours before.

          Now, as for the Green release…very surprised by that move. I’m sure he will be snatched up quickly. Sometimes it is almost impossible to figure out what may have gone right or wrong at camp for OL.

    • td says:

      I agree with the power run part. If the two-headed TE monster and young pups at WR are not ready this year, I expect an amped up running game with Ridley, Bolden & Blount with Vereen on 3rd downs.

  3. Bobby says:

    Get a life






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