If the Patriots are going to succeed this season, it’s all going to start in the trenches. They don’t have Gronk to make up for a lack of run blocking, or to stay in and chip top tier pass rushers. They don’t have Brady and his 1.5 second release time to make up for their lack of ability to hold defenders. Dante Scarnecchia is on to bigger things, and will no longer be coaching the big fellas. They don’t even have James Develin anymore to pave the way for for Sony to paydirt. They have a lot to overcome this season. But, they are going to need to make these things happen for Jarrett Stidham’s first year as a starter to be a successful one.
Center – (David Andrews, Dustin Woodard)
Center seems like the most solidified position with David Andrews back from his health complications. He is really the leader on the entire offensive line, which is great to have coming from the middle of the trenches. Just his presence, calling out blitzes and helping his teammates anticipate whats coming can make all the difference in the world. They also drafted Dustin Woodard from Memphis in the 7th round after losing Ted Karras to free agency. Woodard is a real iron man that started 52 straight games, which really fits in with how to be a Patriots offensive lineman.
Guard – (Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason, Hjalte Froholdt, Jermaine Eluemunor, Najee Toran, Michael Onwenu)
Guard is the position with the most unknown. Joe Thuney we know is the definition of toughness, and hasn’t missed a game since entering the league. Hopefully any and all contract issues are determined before the season starts so he can help Andrews lead the way. Shaq Mason was very off and on last season. We all know he is a bowling ball of a run blocker, but his pass blocking needs some work. With the contract he has, he needs to step it up. Otherwise, they like Froholdt who they drafted last season. The Danish Destroyer should make his case next year. He might find himself starting if one of the other 2 get traded. Eluemunor was signed after the preseason last year, and was mostly an extra lineman on the roster, but would serve well again as a backup. They also drafted Michael Onwenu from Michigan, who could make his mark to stick around on the practice squad.
Tackle: (Marcus Cannon, Isaiah Wynn, Korey Cunningham, Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron)
On the outside of the line is where they are the most lackluster. Marcus Cannon reverted back to his turnstile ways last season. He’s also on the wrong side of 30, so things are looking great on the right side. Isaiah Wynn has yet to be consistently on the field. Whether he is decent or not, he is undersized for a left tackle. Korey Cunningham came at the beginning of last season as well, but also played the same role as Eluemunor and mostly played on special teams. Yodny Cajuste is a guy that they really liked in last years draft that could come onto the scene. Cajuste was a starter as a freshman before sustaining and injury, which cause him to miss a season and a half. He was then a full time starter the last 2 years, and missed his rookie season with an injury. He has the size and looks like an athletic tackle, and he can’t be any worse than Marshall Newhouse. They also drafted Justin Herron from Wake Forest, who is another 4 year starter, setting the school record at 51 starts. They have a lot of future potential at the position. But this year might be a tough one for the tackles against some fierce pass rushers.
-Jake Kobierski (@TheRealKobe83)