New England Patriots Draft Needs: Offensive Line

Over the next few days I will be considering the biggest draft day needs for the New England Patriots and assessing what players could possibly get drafted to address those needs.  Today’s entry will focus on the offensive line.  The previous entries can be seen here:

Defensive Line: https://ntcf.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/2576/

Outside Linebacker: https://ntcf.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/new-england-patriots-draft-needs-outside-linebacker/

Wide Receiver: https://ntcf.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/new-england-patriots-draft-needs-wide-receiver/

Within the next year, the Patriots could have a completely new front five on the offensive line.  Both Matt Light and Logan Mankins are free agents this off-season.  Many believe that Light is a life-long Patriot and won’t leave, but you can never be sure until the ink is on the contract.  Mankins had the franchise tag placed on him, which locks him down for 2011, but a trade is still very possible.  Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, and Dan Connolly are all free agents after the 2011 season, and Nick Kaczur and Sebastian Vollmer are free agents after the 2012 season.  Even if no one leaves via free agency, Matt Light (33 in June), Dan Koppen (32 in September), and Stephen Neal (35 in October) are all aging, and Kaczur has struggled to stay healthy.  Depth is an issue on the offensive line, and upgrading on the interior is a possibility. Here’s a look at a few guys that could be new additions to the Patriots come 2011:

Name: Mike Pouncey

Position: C/OG

School: Florida

Year: Senior

Size: 6’4”, 310 lbs

Projected Round: 1st

Analysis: Pouncey’s draft day status is boosted by the success that brother Maurkice had for the Steelers this past year.  Mike played guard when Maurkice was in Gainesville, but slid over to play center for the 2010 season.  Pouncey played defensive tackle to begin his career at Florida, but switched to offense in 2008.  Pouncey has experience, having notched 45 career starts in the SEC.  Pouncey displays quick feet and a good punch.  May need to add some strength to play guard on the next level.  Best interior offensive line prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft, hands down.

Name: Danny Watkins

Position: OT/OG

School: Baylor

Year: Senior

Size: 6’4”, 312 lbs

Projected Round: 1-2

Analysis: Watkins played left tackle at Baylor, but translate much better at guard on the next level.  Started all 25 games of Baylor career after transferring from junior college.  Biggest drawback with Watkins is that he is 26 years old and will be 27 next November.  Unlike other 21 and 22 year old rookies, Watkins’ shelf life is already limited with not as much time allowed for him to improve.  His quickness isn’t as good as most tackles in the draft, but some quickness deficits can be negated by playing guard.  His strength is average, but athleticism is a big plus.  Knows blocking schemes well and is a smart player.

Name: Marcus Cannon

Position: OT/OG

School: TCU

Year: Senion

Size: 6’6”, 350 lbs

Projected Round: 2nd

Analysis: Marcus Cannon is a beast.  Considered to be a workout warrior, Cannon has added 50 pounds since arriving on TCU’s campus, but hasn’t lost any of the quickness or agility that made him one of the nation’s top right tackles.  The only knock on Cannon is that he struggles with speed rushers on the edge, but what would you expect out of a guy that weighs in at 350?  In my opinion, Cannon translates best as an offensive guard on the next level.  He can use his shear girth to plug up the middle of the offensive line, while still utilizing his quickness to pull on outside run plays.  Versatility is coveted in New England, and similarly with Pouncey and Watkins, a lineman that can play multiple positions is a huge plus for coach Belichick.

Name: James Brewer

Position: OT

School: Indiana

Year: Senior

Size: 6’6”, 323 lbs

Projected Round: 4th

Analysis: Brewer reminds me a bit of Sebastian Vollmer.  Clearly, Brewer was the most talented offensive lineman at Indiana for a few years, but injuries hindered his progression and success.  Took over the left tackle spot for Rams’ rookie sensation Roger Saffold.  Many believe that Brewer is talented enough to warrant a late first to early second round selection, but injury question marks have him sliding down draft boards.  The biggest knock on Brewer is that he lacks the aggression and mean streak expected out of a player that has his size.  Brewer has great feet and hands, utilized primarily in pass blocking, but his lack of assertion hurts him at times.  Great week at the Senior Bowl.

Name: Zach Hurd

Position: OG

School: UConn

Year: Senior

Size: 6’7”, 325 lbs

Projected Round: 5th

Analysis: Not much more you can ask of an offensive guard than to be first team All-Big East for two consecutive years while blocking for a 1,000 yard rusher in every season that he has played at UConn.  Hurd missed the Senior Bowl with a calf injury.  Hurd is more of a power blocker than a finesse guy, but that is expected out of an offensive guard as big as him.  Hurd’s lateral ability is somewhat limited, but he is a project type lineman that could flourish within the right system.

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  1. […] under: NFL, NFL Draft, Patriots « New England Patriots Draft Needs: Offensive Line LikeBe the first to like this […]

  2. […] Outside Linebacker: http://ntcf.wordpr […] mattyoshowNew England Patriots Draft Needs: Offensive Line February 20, 2011Over the next few days I will be considering the biggest draft day needs for the […]

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