NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
With the Patriots earning a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, it is hard to be anything but optimistic that they could make another serious run at the Super Bowl. Over the last few weeks though, we have seen a return of some shaky and inconsistent play, especially along the offensive line. If they cannot right the ship, it could be the difference of whether or not they hoist another Lombardi trophy. For this report, I decided to once again focus on a versatile offensive lineman with experience at both tackle and guard.Name: Christian Lombard
School: Notre Dame (SR)
Weight: 315 Lbs.
Lombard possesses the prototypical size that the Patriots look for in their offensive linemen and has good athleticism and quickness for a player of his size. He has good footwork in pass protection and has shown that he can be a good pull blocker. He is a smart player who is technically sound especially in his run blocking. Lombard also has the aggressive temperament necessary to be an offensive lineman and consistently blocks up until the whistle. He also plays in a system that is similar to that of the Patriots so his learning curve would likely be minimal.
Lombard is inconsistent and seems to panic at times, which leads to sloppy fundamentals and technique. He has a tendency to get high in his blocks, which leaves his chest exposed to defenders and can cause him to get off balance. He has long arms and strong hands but is inconsistent in getting them extended and using them to his advantage. Lombard also lacks strength in his lower body. On tape, you can see at times that the defender’s initial blow knocks him back in pass protection, and on running plays, he often struggles to move defenders.
From the Patriots perspective, there is a lot to like about Lombard. He has experience at both guard and tackle in a system that is similar to the Patriots, which could allow him to step in as a contributing backup at multiple positions. He has the physical makeup that the Patriots prefer, but needs time to develop his strength and technique. The raw tools are all there and his athleticism is something that cannot be taught. I give Lombard a Day 3 draft grade, but he has starter upside and could develop into a nice player along the offensive line.