In Depth Look At The Offensive Line: Past, Present, and Future

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

With the first preseason game just a few days away, there is a feeling that football is really back. I know I have been glued to the internet looking for any and all the nuggets from practice that I can find. While that is great, it is nothing like seeing things with your own eyes. I know preseason games can get ugly fast, but I find myself very intrigued to watch beyond the starters this year. This roster is loaded with talent, but there are probably a few spots up for grabs at the back end of the 53 man roster, and it is those battles I look forward to watching on Thursday. Before we get to the game though, we can fill our free time with some light reading on the Offensive Line.

The Past:

Since 2007, the Patriots have drafted 20 Offensive Lineman (10 Tackles, 8 Guards, 2 Centers). Of those 20 Lineman, only half were Combine invites the year they were drafted. Of the ten that were Combine participants, none were designated as Guards. Joe Thuney has played exclusively at Guard in the NFL, but was a Tackle in college. With the limited information, it makes it difficult to pinpoint what the team looks for at each of the position. For this exercise, I used pro day results for the players not invited to the combine. Here is what I found out.

Tackles:

Height: 6’6″

Weight: 315 Lbs

40 Yard Dash: 5.21 sec.

Vertical: 30″

Bench: 27 reps

Broad Jump: 8’9″

3cone: 7.78 sec.

Shuttle: 4.72 sec.

Guards:

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 312 Lbs

40 Yard Dash: 5.23 sec

Vertical: 26″

Bench: 28 reps

Broad Jump: 8’8″

3cone: 7.85 sec

Shuttle: 4.68 sec

Centers:

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 301 Lbs

40 Yard Dash: 5.23 sec

Vertical: 27″

Bench: 25 reps

Broad Jump: 8’7″

3cone: 7.67 sec

Shuttle: 4.61 sec.

When looking at who the Patriots drafted compared to the averages of the rest of the drafted players at their respective positions, we once again see a familiar theme. The Patriots drafted players who tested above average in the Vertical, Broad Jump, 3cone, and Shuttle at all 3 positions. Obviously footwork and lower body explosion are traits the team look for in their Offensive Lineman.

The Present:

Here is a look at the current depth chart:

Tackles:

Nate Solder

Marcus Cannon

Antonio Garcia

Cameron Fleming

LaAdrian Waddle

Conor McDermott

Cole Croston

Andrew Jelks

Max Rich

Guards:

Shaq Mason

Joe Thuney

Jamil Douglas

Ted Karras(c)

Jason King

Centers:

David Andrews

James Ferentz

After looking at this depth chart and reading through training camp notes, I have to admit I am a little concerned with the depth of this group. Tackle is probably in the best shape if someone gets hurt, but even there I have some concerns. The team has no real contingency plan right now if Andrews gets hurt and the backups at Guards are unproven at best. I could see the team making some moves at the end of camp to bolster the depth along the offensive line.

The Future:

Here is a list of Seniors at each position to check out this fall

Tackles:

Jake Campos, Iowa State

Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State

Jamarco Jones, Ohio State

Casey Tucker, Stanford

David Bright, Stanford

Bentley Spain, UNC

Tyrell Crosby, Oregon

Ike Boettger, Iowa

Boone Myers, Iowa

Darius James, Auburn

Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan

 

Guard:

Quinton Nelson, Notre Dame

Billy Price, Ohio State

Cody O’Connell, Washington State

Braden Smith, Auburn

Tyrone Crowder, Clemson

Brendan Mahon, Penn State

Larry Allen Jr., Harvard

K.C. McDermott, Miami

Viane Talamaivao, USC

Tony Adams, NC State

Aaron Stinnie, James Madison

Jashon Robertson, Tennessee

 

Centers:

Brian Allen, Michigan State

Mason Cole, Michigan

Frank Ragnow, Arkansas

Austin Golson, Auburn

Nick Linder, Miami

Coleman Shelton, Washington

 

That concludes the offensive side of the ball. I can’t wait for the game on Thursday. I am not sure when NFL network will be showing the game, so I am not sure about doing any live commentary. We shall see. Either way, I look forward to talking with you all on what we liked and didn’t like from preseason game #1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

49 Responses to “In Depth Look At The Offensive Line: Past, Present, and Future”

  1. Russell says:

    New York Jets will go 1-15 this year playing for the first pick in the draft….QB…

    • steve earle says:

      Jets may indeed capture the dubious honor of the 1st pick in the 2018 draft and even may select their future franchise qb. Still given the inept management they have displayed for the better part of the past two decades I see no reason to break a sweat from worry.

  2. steve earle says:

    Here it is Tuesday and I’m surprised we have not heard that C. Jones has been released yet. I would not have been shocked if it had happened last Friday or Saturday but here we are. I don’t suppose it would matter much if it didn’t happen until Sept 2nd except it would deprive some prospect from showing what he’s got. Anybody got any inside info on this? Theory or speculations?

    • Jeff says:

      Yeah, I I’d imagine with him still showing something as a return man that he will stick until the cut-down day. He’s not a veteran they need to show respect to by releasing him early so he can latch on with another team, and he probably has a better chance sticking as a return guy and emergency corner option than someone random off the street. If they needed space on the roster, I think there are guys below him on the depth chart like CB Likely, LB Ellis, or TE Cotton, for example.

      • steve earle says:

        True Jeff though I really think we have a number of potential other guys that can do as well returning as C Jones that doesn’t include starters like Edelman or Cook. The open roster spot would not be limited to the DB position could be any position. How about Foster as a returner or Moore, Killings, Lucien who knows. I still don’t like C Jones returning because he was fine all last camp until he got into games. Prefer another team take the risk with him.

    • EdgeX says:

      New rule in effect – there is no 75 roster cut down date this year – only one big roster cut down happening after preseason to get to 53.

      Pat’s, and every other team, aren’t in a rush to cut players unless there’s no chance of X player making the roster. They still need bodies to make it through camp.

    • kevin z says:

      seen Rivers got hurt keeping fingers crossed for sure

  3. EdgeX says:

    I know there’s a lot of time between now and the 2018 season…but…

    An interesting thought just came to me when you look at the potential roster a year from now and how much work the Patriots have to do on roster building for a year from now. Maybe this even gives some credence to the thought that they are going “all in” this year.

    I see positions of need being on defense: DT, DE, LB, and CB

    DE is already a weakness with, as of right now, only 3 future starters in Wise, River, and Flowers (but who is on last year of rookie deal – will Pats pay him?)

    Definite starters at LB we have Hightower, David Harris (concerns of age, last year of contract) and Shea McClellin (last year of contract)

    At DT we have Alan Branch (concerns of age, last year of contract), Malcolm Brown, Vincent Valentine, and Lawrence Guy – I know it’s only 1 guy but finding a replacement for Branch is not going to be easy.

    At CB we have Gilmore, Rowe (last year of rookie deal), Cyrus Jones (for now), and Jonathan Jones

    On the offensive side there are needs at G, OT, RB, and WR:

    At guard we have Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason (last year of rookie deal) – have you been watching what top quality guards are getting paid? I’m not sure Pat’s will be able to afford Mason on long term deal.

    At OT we have Marcus Cannon and Antonio Garcia (who we hope develops).

    At RB we have James White and Mike Gillislee (last year of contract).

    At WR we have Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell…BUT we have Chris Hogan (last year of contract), Brandin Cooks (last year of contract).

    When laid out like this – it seems like the Patriots really can’t miss on any future draft picks lol!

    • macspak says:

      Kraft, BB and Casserio et al. get accolades for creating a dynasty in the free agency era. My take, especially with the vagaries of the draft and the relative lack of early round success this regime has had, is that this success is not in spite of FA but because of FA. This leadership is smart enough to recognize player acquisition and team building has to be multi-faceted because alone each are fraught with statistical and real failure. The draft, UDFA, FA, waivers and trades. BB uses them all, not sure how many other teams do, while making difficult personnel and financial decisions. That is the how and why he builds and rebuilds the team year after year. I see 2018 as another repeat of this ongoing process.

  4. macspak says:

    My thoughts on the preseason game.

    Jacoby Brissette is a 3rd string QB and if he can’t control his arm and stop the high throws he never will be anything more. I don’t see quick recognition and reaction out of him and for the life of me how do you throw the ball out of the end zone on a Hail Mary? You gotta know your arm strength.

    The defense sucked against the pass and run. Piss poor against the run. I’m more concerned with how badly the back-ups played against the run.

    Looks like our last two 2nd round picks won’t be making the team. Richards and Jones. Not as bad as T Bay with that K Aquoyo but bad enough. Tough to build a team for the long term when you miss with your high picks but somehow BB has been doing it.

    Seeing that Mike’s article was about the OL. After a string of years of OL injury bad luck the reverse was true last year. Can’t count on that again. If only 8 make the team must have PS depth and really trust a couple on the PS. I can’t see keeping 10 because even with 8 cuts at other positions seem near impossible but I think you must go with 9 with a post cut veteran pick-up for the interior OL. I think Karras can back-up LG, RG and C so again with PS depth you could go with 8 but I would be more comfortable with 9.

    Interesting suspension of the Dallas RB. My problem is I don’t know the facts but don’t trust anything coming out of Godell and his office. However, way to stick it to Jerry Jones who so supported Godell in Deflategate. Too effen bad for him. I wonder if he will come hat in hand to Kraft seeking any support and what Kraft’s response might be. Of course by pissing off two once highest supporters how much life does Godell have left? I have to think if some anti-Godell faction arose Kraft would be part of it.

    This preseason already seems to be interminable. Let’s set final rosters and let the real games begin.

    Mike, safe to assume not enough interest on this site to create a Fantasy league?

    • steve earle says:

      No argument from me Mac. You and I are on the same page here also 9 on the OL makes sense with two on PS. Pickup one after cuts likely too. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a DT added after cuts also, we’ll see.
      Now about his Majesty Jones in Dallis. Tough S— Smart A–. Any movement against Goodell also has to take into account media politics regarding NFL images. Who the heck knows how that splatters when it hits the fan?

    • EdgeX says:

      I wouldn’t put much thought into the first preseason game.

      Most of the guys playing were 3rd or 4th string guys. They won’t even make the team. Plus they were running a dumb downed game plan.

      From the Patriots point of view the main point of the first preseason game was to try and find a few diamonds in the rough that hopefully are worth salvaging – Austin Carr, Jacob Hollister, Ted Karras, Harvey Langi come to mind for me – but we still need to see a lot more before that final decision is made.

  5. Russell says:

    Would like to see WR Carr return punts & k-offs, (to make the roster) and wave good bye to C. Jones.

  6. mike says:

    Just finished watching the game. Here are some very late takes:
    As mentioned several times, Austin Carr was a standout last night. He has excellent hands and body control. My worry coming out was his size/quickness combination. It was average at best and I worried about his ability to get open. He is an excellent route runner however and deserved to be drafted. He is going to make it tough for the Patriots to not put him on the 53 man roster.

    Cyrus Jones is done. I tried to put a good spin on him when he was drafted, but he is stiff and slow and at this point all his confidence is gone. He has to go.

    Jordan Richards. See Jones, Cyrus

    I was glad to see Dion Lewis play well tonight. He looked comfortable cutting on that leg and seemed to play with good power last night.

    I thought Harvey Langi had more ups than downs last night. He was a little over aggressive at times, but he showed the ability to set the edge and make some tackles.

    It was not the best performance from Elandon Roberts. He was guessing too much out there and he always guessed wrong.

    Kony Ealy is squandering an opportunity to make himself some money this year. Maybe the light will go off and he will turn things around, but he looks like a JAG out there.

    Derek Rivers showed off his athleticism and while it didn’t produce much on the stat sheet, I like what I saw.

    Jacob Hollister looked good enough to be a 3rd TE. Will that be here, I don’t know. Cuts are going to be tough and finding room for him is tough. Would love to get him on the PS this year.

    Ted Karras played well and I think he could play Center in a pinch. He has developed nicely from his rookie year.

    I didn’t see a lot from Adam Butler good or bad but want to go back and focus on him. I did think Josh Augusta got some good push up the middle. He won’t make the team, but a spot on the PS could allow him to continue to get in shape and have a chance to man the middle next year. If possible, I would ask Wilfork to take this kid under his wing and teach him how to be a professional on and off the field.

    Jimmy G’s numbers were fine, but it didn’t click until 2nd and 3rd teamers were in. His best play of the night was the comeback to Carr along the sideline. That was a starting QB NFL throw right there.

  7. mike says:

    Patriots just signed DL- Keionta Davis and released Dwayne Thomas. I know Davis was a fan favorite of a few around here. He hurt his foot I believe before the draft and comes from a small school, but he was a very good pass rusher, which this team needs.

    • kevin z says:

      I like this move if davis healthy, more worried about front seven, than the backend as of now

      • steve earle says:

        Don’t think BB would have signed him if he wasn’t healthy. When Branch and Brown start playing the front will be better then last night. Davis DE could turn out well or not have to wait and see while keeping fingers crossed. Look for scramble on Sept 2nd when all the cuts come by all teams trying to fix depths. Bill may pick up one or two guys who knows?

        • kevin z says:

          yea wouldn’t think BB would either
          I just worry he had a bulging disc in his neck

        • steve earle says:

          Hadn’t heard about a bulging disc in the neck. Still Bill and the Pat’s are pretty careful about those kind of things and expect Davis must have been cleared medically.

  8. steve earle says:

    One of the young guys , DJ Killings, who had caught my eye when I visited camp back in July made a nice stop on a critical 3rd down last night. I was trying to focus on him but TV makes that difficult. He’s on my pick to stick list which is growing with Carr and Hollister after last night. But those two are different positions and seeing Cyrus Jones stink up the def. last night I have hopes DJ squeezes in the 53. He’s only 5-10 but not afraid to stick his nose in and make stops. I like that. Okay so have to ask, does anyone out there have any more insights on him from the game last night?

    • EdgeX says:

      Yeah – remember that the game was against 3rd/4th string guys so have to temper expectations – even as high as I am on Austin Carr and Jacob Hollister.

      • steve earle says:

        Full understand Edge but same conditions faced Cyrus Jones more or less. Now After last night I’m pretty high on Hollisten and Carr too, not saying DJ is another Butler just yet but someone to watch. Hard on TV as you know so seeking more input.We have three more weeks until cut downs so everything is in play. Just hard to see everything from the couch.

  9. EdgeX says:

    Well from watching the preseason game last night here’s a few up and a few down:

    Down:
    1. Cyrus Jones – I’ve always held that there was no way the Patriot’s would cut a 2nd round pick only in his 2nd year but Cyrus Jones is making the best (or worst?) case for exactly that to happen. He just looks lost out there. it was so bad that the Patriots tried him at Safety last night.
    2. Jordan Richards – Speaking of lost players…I don’t see him making the 53 man roster. He was a liability in both the passing game and the run game last night.
    3. Geneo Grissom – I didn’t really see any bad plays or good plays from him last night and at this point you’d hope he would be doing something to earn a roster spot. Only way I think he makes the roster is if there are a rash of injuries at the DE/LB position.

    Up:
    1. Austin Carr – Someone is going to come down with that magic injury bug allowing Austin Carr to make the 53 man roster. No way this guy gets through waivers and makes it to the P-squad.
    2. Jacob Hollister – WOW he made some difficult catches in traffic. If he can play some special teams too I think he might push O’Shaunessey off the roster.
    3. Ted Karras – He made some really nice blocks last night and I feel a little better about having him as our backup center to David Andrews.

    • Ryan says:

      It blew my mind that Carr went undrafted. The guy led the Big 10 in receiving and had 252 more yards and 16 more catches than his closest competitors in those categories. The Big 10 had 11 defensive backs drafted last year, including 5 in the first 3 rounds, and Carr had to play against those studs regularly. Against probably the best secondary in the conference (Ohio State), Carr had 8 catches for 158 yards. Athleticism is important, but if this guy could get open against OSU’s secondary (3 players taken in the first 24 picks) he’s got a real shot to stick. Here’s to hoping he’s Amendola’s replacement by this time next year.

    • steve earle says:

      Fully agree Cyrus Jones is toast. Just seeing the close-ups of DC Patrica after the blunders told that story. I might also say I wasn’t impressed be either Waddle at LT or McDermott at right. A rookie can be excused in his first NFL live action. Not so much Waddle.
      I think Bolden made a strong case for sticking for another year vs Foster who still doesn’t impress me.
      Hollister and Carr did impress me but barring injuries how in the world do we keep them? Can’t see either clearing wavers. Amendola feeling the breaths on the back of his neck?
      Saw Roberts and Wise Jr go out with some injury issues, hope not serious?

      • kevin z says:

        barring injuries thinking Carr Hollister
        along with UDFA cb’s Saf go on IR for next season so don’t lose them

        • steve earle says:

          Afraid the league would be looking real close if more then a couple guys got stashed on IR like that. Wouldn’t take much for Goodell to find an excuse to try to screw us again.

        • kevin z says:

          yea true lol he sure would guess not a good idea

    • kevin z says:

      Liked what saw from Rivers. got some pressure just no sacks to show for it..
      seemed like D travis was around the ball not sure if beat on the plays though.
      Langi seemed to just go for the tackle and not wait for it like I saw from some others.

  10. Russell says:

    I was not a fan of C.Jones last year, and while his K-off returns were OK, his pass coverage looked sad. S Richards was poor as well, with bad positioning. The O-line group was mix and match, but Waddle looked poor at LOT. The run blocking got little movement.
    WR Carr looked very good, ran nice routes, good hands, and separation. TE Hollister looked good, in the scheme he was in, & showed good hands.

    • kevin z says:

      hate to lose a young player in C jones think lost all confidence.
      with the amount of cb an saf we have could afford to release him.
      think this the year slater ebner Richards could lose there jobs.
      they only do one thing need more versatility than that.

  11. Russell says:

    An OT/OG the Patriots may show interest in is ; Brandon Parker N.C. AT 6’6″ 300 lbs. a small school guy similar to OT Garcia. However I tend to think 4 ( one with OG possibilities) OT’s in camp make the roster, with the future in mind, instead of drafting a guy. I look for 2 OT’s on the Practice squad.
    As of now back-up’s ; OT’s, Garcia, Rich, Croston OG/OT , Fleming
    P-Squad ; OT McDermott, Jelks
    Back-ups at OG; Karras, OG/OC, Ferentz OC/OG
    P-Squad ; OG Douglas, King

    • steve earle says:

      Well that’s one way it could go Russell but it’s early yet. How would this fit?
      OL outside: Solder and Cannon locks to start
      Garcis and Flemming the backups.
      Inside : Thuney, Andrews and Mason the locks start
      Karris primary backup and Flemming for emergency
      That gives 8 OL on the 53 Then:
      PS: McDermott and winner of the rest of the competition
      Thinking ahead to the 2018 draft unless Garcia and McDermott are complete busts can’t see us drafting another OT before the 5th rd unless a real steal slips through. My early thinking is an early pick at OC. One of the top three or four. Someone who could step in in year two and become the anchor for several years to come. Maybe even as a rookie?

      • Russell says:

        I know it’s early and tonights game will help clear the picture.. I feel very sure BB keeps OC/G Ferentz on the 53 man roster. I also feel BB keeps no less than 10 O-lineman on the roster, 3-4 on the P-Squad.
        Depending on what happens to Garropolo, and CB Butler at years end, I think BB drafts a QB first round, OR a CB, depending on availability.

        • steve earle says:

          Really, you think Ferentz is going to stick? I can see maybe the PS but he’s been the invisible man, nothing good, nothing bad, what are you seeing we’re not? Keeping 10 on the O-line maybe but that seems a lot especially thinking about all the talented bottom of the roster guys who are showing up big so far. At least it gives we fans lots to talk about and look forward to.

  12. td says:

    After reading about how bad Brissett has looked, it hit me that BB kept Garrapolo not in case Brady went down but because Brissett is not ready to take the backup role. It would be a biblical shift of operations for BB to hold onto two QB’s making $20+ million next year, one of which would most likely be standing on the sidelines. $20 million yields about 4-5 really good football players with experience that could play next year.

    • steve earle says:

      I think your right td. 20 mil something a year for two QB’s each is pretty unlikely. How I think it will unfold is JG gets a tag after this season to guarantee at least a 1st rd pick though Bill could make a trade for two or three lesser choices. Either way Jimmy will be starting for another team in 19. Bill’s no fool he won’t let JG just wave goodby and get nothing for him.

  13. Russell says:

    OT Nate Solder is earning $10 mil. salary this year. I think Solder will retire after this year. At his age I find it unlikely he gets any big money offers as a free agent. I think BB will be holding on to training camp O-line prospects with the future in mind. Watch OC Ferentz, OT Rich, and OT/OG Croston. OG/C Karras, is already in the system.
    The Patriots need that money, if they try to resign CB Butler, or QB Garoppolo.
    I don’t see the Patriots drafting an O-lineman next year. If the Patriots lose CB Butler, & Garoppolo to trade or free agency, these are areas they may target in the draft.

    • Jeff says:

      If Solder has a season somewhat close to his last season, I don’t think he’ll have any trouble at all breaking $10 million/year on the open market. Left tackles are hard to find, Solder is at the least an average league starter at the position, and players at that position get paid.

    • steve earle says:

      Not likely Ferentz sticks around no matter how much we watch. At 6-2 285 he doesn’t measure up to NFL OL standards. That he’s in a NFL pro camp at all is a great credit to him but come on, he’s 20 to 35 lbs under weight.

  14. Jeff says:

    Ideally, Solder is extended, and either Fleming is resigned or a guy like McDermott develops enough on the practice squad that you can slot him in as the 4th OT next year. Add an interior guy in the 4th round or so to add some talent to your depth, and you’ll be all set along the offensive line.

    • steve earle says:

      I’m assuming your projecting Garcia as the LT in waiting as I am. Also hoping McDermott either shows enough in camp to make the 4th OT or passes wavers onto the PS. But then I have about six rookies on my hope stick list as of now. Bound to be disappointed just how bad?

  15. EdgeX says:

    Yeah, next years draft looks to be stacked at a lot of positions just like 2017. Would be nice if the Pat’s can somehow pick up a couple more draft picks and pick up a couple of these guys. I think center really needs to be backed up and could also be upgraded. And who knows what’s going to happen to Solder after the season so they could really pick up another OT if they don’t resign him.

    • steve earle says:

      Taking it from the bottom up. I really think it very likely Solder moves on and Garcia is our LT next year. Could be wrong, I am so often but it seems to make sense to me. If McDermott doesn’t show enough another OT could be a target next draft for sure. Wouldn’t McGlinchey’s name sound great when the announce “the Patriots pick is”? I know no chance really, but hey! For a touch of reality I really think a top OC prospect needs to be added to stabilize the inside. Haven’t even glanced at the 2018 prospects yet, maybe I’ll take an early peek after this? Got any favorites yet Edge?

      • steve earle says:

        Took that quick peek and looks like some good ones will be coming out. My guy to watch, Frank Ragnow OC Ark 6-4 319. Said to be a terrific run blocker, hasn’t allowed a sack in 26 starts against top talent plus regarded as great screen blocker, “best in the nation” one scout said. Draft scout rates him a 3rd rd pick others a 2nd. If he has another good season I wouldn’t mind Bill taking him with our 1st. Guy like that could stabilize that interior. Oh yea, elected one of four captains for this year. Bill does love those captains.

        • Mike Gerken says:

          I am a big fan of Ragnow as well. Arkansas seems to be one of the Patriots newest pipelines so I could see them going that route. Bielema is a very good coach there and is known for his development of offensive lineman. I look forward to watching him play this year.

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