NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
The Tackle position is tough to project when it comes to the Patriots. In fact, the whole offensive line has become a bit of enigma. At tackle, the Patriots have had success with tall, lean, and athletic guys like Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer. Scar is gone and Gooch is in as offensive line coach, and we saw the Patriots draft a little different type of player. So, will they continue to look at what has proven to work, or are they looking at a change in philosophy? Here are some guys that might fit both styles and stuck out to me.
Current Roster: Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Flemming (G), Caylin Hauptmann
Position Need: Medium
The Patriots have very good starters at both tackle spots. Solder had his struggles last year, but we recently learned he was coming back from testicular cancer and that could have affected his game. You rarely hear Vollmer’s name mentioned, which is a good thing. Cannon showed promise two years ago, but struggled last year after a stint at guard. Flemming is a candidate to move inside this year and if I am being completely honest, I had never heard of Hauptmann until I started writing this article. I think the Patriots could look at bringing in another tackle to groom behind Solder and Vollmer. This would give them some leverage and a back up plan if a long term deal cannot be worked out with Solder. Look for the Patriots to draft a guy with potential to play other positions in the short term with the ability to bump that player back out to tackle if need be.
T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh (6’5″, 309 Lbs.) 1st round
I wrote Clemmings up earlier this season (see link below) but have a few additional comments. I think he has the chance to come in and play guard at a high level while he continues to develop his footwork and balance to play outside. He is not a finished product but has a huge amount of upside. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2014/12/scouting-report-t-j-clemmings.html
D.J. Humphries, Florida (6’5″, 307 Lbs.) 1st/2nd round
Humphries fits in the mold of Vollmer and Solder. He is extremely athletic for a guy his size. He is light on his feet and he moves well enough to handle even the fastest of pass rushers (just watch the Missouri tape.) He lacks strength and will not dominate as a run blocker. Humphries needs to add some bulk to his frame to keep up with the physical play of the NFL.
Jake Fisher, Oregon (6’6″, 306 Lbs.) 2nd round
Fisher and Humphries are very similar to each other. Fisher is another athletic guy that needs to add strength. Fisher has a little more work to do from a fundamental standpoint. He tends to play too upright and he needs work with hand placement and usage. He has a bit of a nasty streak and I think he could be a candidate to play inside at guard short term. He has the look of a Patriots offensive tackle and with good coaching he could anchor either side for years to come.
Cedric Ogbuehi, Alabama (6’5″, 302 Lbs.) 2nd/3rd round
I promise, I did look at some of the bigger, thicker guys, but Ogbuehi isn’t one of them. I could say a lot of the same things I said about Humphries and Fisher here, so I will save you and me the time. Of the three, I think he is the best in the running game. He can be grabby and he needs to work on his hand placement and technique. He is coming off a major injury and probably would have been drafted higher, so he might represent that evil “v” word all Patriots fans have come to hate.
Donovan Smith, Penn State (6’6″, 338 Lbs.) 3rd round
See, I told you. Smith has a nice combination of size and surprisingly nimble feet. He has a wide base and a strong lower body. He has good length to keep defenders at bay and moves well enough to get to the second level. He has a big belly and can be a waist bender when he starts to tire. Conditioning and motor have come into question with Smith. He has rare size and movement skills, but a team will have to keep him motivated to play up to his potential. If they can do that, Smith will be special.
Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State (6’6″, 311 Lbs.) 3rd/4th round
Here is what I wrote about Sambrailo earlier this season. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2014/12/scouting-report-ty-sambrailo-otog.html
Daryl Williams, Oklahoma (6’5″, 327 Lbs.) 4th round
Williams was not even the most heralded offensive tackle at Oklahoma, but for my money, he is the better prospect. He has NFL size and strength to contribute early. He is very powerful and once he gets his hands on defenders it is over. Williams has a huge wingspan that helps him make up for his deficiencies as a mover. He will struggle with speed and seems heavy legged in his movements. Williams has a tenancy to lunge at defenders and he must work on his balance and knee bend.
Chaz Green, Florida (6’5″, 314 Lbs.) 6th round
Florida used to be the Patriots minor league system, and with a couple of offensive line prospects, maybe it will be again. Green is a good athlete that moves well in space. He is a blue collar type of player that won’t wow you, but rarely makes mistakes that will hurt the team. Green was a team captain and from all accounts a very respected player. He is very good in pass protection, but needs to get stronger in the run game. He has some injury issues. Green played both right and left tackle during his time at Florida, so he does have position flexibility. This guy screams Patriots player to me both on and off the field.
Laurence Gibson, Virginia Tech. (6’6″, 305 Lbs.) very intriguing guy. Tape is either awesome or terrible, not a lot in between. Needs time, but could be someone to watch
Takoby Cofield, Duke (6’4″, 310 Lbs.)
Rob Crisp, NC State (6’7″, 301 Lbs.)
Note: If you didn’t see a guy on here you thought should be, it is possible I see them as a better fit at guard, so they may be in that grouping. (tomorrow’s post)
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