NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones
After former Boston College Eagles standout Dan Koppen took over New England’s starting center job as a rookie fifth-round draft pick back in 2003, it began to look as though he might remain a Patriot for life, starting every game he appeared in for the first nine years of his career and establishing himself as an intelligent player who excelled at some of the position’s nuances, such as shotgun snapping and who enjoyed unbelievable chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady.
However, towards the end of his tenure with the Patriots, flaws started to emerge in his game, particularly when it came to the undersized center’s attempts at blocking the influx of massive nose tackles which accompanied the proliferation of 3-4 defenses as the league began to transition away from the four-man fronts it had favored for some time.
Koppen’s deficiencies in that regard reportedly led New England to consider some of the NFL Draft’s top center prospects, including 2009 first-round pick Eric Wood, 2010 first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey, and 2011 first-round pick Mike Pouncey. However, New England’s next two starting centers were destined to be players already on the roster.