Originally Posted by NE39
This note was in Pro Football Weekly's Whispers
Makes a lot of sense. Much as bolstering the defense is a priority, protecting TB has to be the #1 priority for this team. The OL is solid, but there are some issues with aging, injury, and expiring contracts.
I think the Pats have been fairly low key about the OL in terms of openly scouting players/player visits, etc. But I assume that the interest is there. Andre Smith being brought in for a visit is one such indicator. BB's pro day visit to Connecticut is another.
Here's the way I look at it.
I. The OT's
1. If either of the "big 2" (Jason Smith/Eugene Monroe) slid to within trade-up range (23 + 58 getting us to around 14) they would easily be worth it as a value. But this is extremely unlikely. Monroe is reported to be slipping a bit due to injury concerns, but I can't see him getting by Cincinnati at #6.
2. Michael Oher and Andre Smith are wild cards. They could go top 10, or could slip as low as 20. I favor the former assumption - OT's tend to rise, not slide. There's also an issue as to whether they would fit for the Pats.
3. William Beatty and Ebon Britton are the likely late 1st/early 2nd round guys, with Beatty more of a pure LT and a bit more raw (but greater upside) and Britton more of a RT/swing tackle with a pit more development but lesser growth potential. I still like Beatty at 23 or 34.
4. Jamon Meredith and Philip Loadholt are the solid 2nd round guys. Loadholt is a pure RT or guard and more of a road grader than I would expect for the Pats. Meredith is very versatile but gets pushed around a bit much for an OT.
5. Troy Kropog is a solid 3rd round option with nice feet who could develop into a starting LT. Box's guy Sebastian Vollmer is reportedly rising fast and could be a 3rd rounder as well. Gerald Cadogan from Penn St. has slow feet but nice intangibles. There's lots of others potentially worth a flyer, but with no clear indications that they will succeed.
II. The Interior Lineman
1. This draft is much stronger in OG/C candidates than in pure OG's. I don't think Duke Robinson or Hermann Johnson are good fits for the Pats. Alex Mack, Eric Wood, and Max Unger are all excellent candidates in the 2nd round. They've all been discussed a fair amount on this board. Wood is said to be rising and could go #32 to Pittsburgh.
2. TJ Lang, Andy Levitre and Trevor Canfield are all reasonable 3rd-4th round possibilities. They've all been discussed a fair amount on this board.
3. The sleeper guy I like is Brandon Walker from Oklahoma - my favorite OU lineman by far coming out this year. He's much closer to the Pats mold than either Philip Loadholt or Duke Robinson. He'll probably go 5th round or later, so if we are looking for a possible successor to Stephen Neal around the #170 pick he would be my guy.
Personally, I think that good interior lineman can be had in the mid to late rounds of this draft, so I would rather get a Brandon Walker in the 5th-6th round of Trevor Canfield in the late 3rd/4th than spend a 1st day pick on an OG. Dan Koppen is generally quite adequate at center and is one of the few lineman under long term contract. His troubles with bigger DTs notwithstanding, I don't think it is a priority to upgrade him.
OT is another issue. Although the tackles are adequate, there is definitely long term room to upgrade. The question is how whether the need justifies the usually high cost of getting a potential franchise OT. If Andre Smith or Oher falls and the FO thinks they are the real deal that could be an option. Otherwise it depends on where Beatty and Britton end up going, and how the FO evaluates them.