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MORSE: Part 2 of the Patriots Position by Position Analysis – Offensive Line

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
June 26, 2021 at 2:19 pm ET

MORSE: Part 2 of the Patriots Position by Position Analysis – Offensive Line(PHOTO: Jim Dedmon - USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Jun 26, 2021 02:19
🕑 Read Time: 6 minutes

The Patriots could have one of the most dominating Offensive Lines in the entire League.  That is could, if everything comes together between injuries and motivation.  The projected starters are Isaia Wynn LT. Michael Onwenu LG, David Andrews C, Shaq Mason RG, and Trent Brown RT.  This assumes Brown will be motivated and in shape, Wynn can stay healthy and Onwenu continues to develop as he moves from RT to LG.

Onwenu – played his best game, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), at LG in 2020.  His outstanding grading numbers ranked him as the #6 rookie in the 2020 Draft Class.  A tremendous find by the Patriots.  He wasn’t that good at Michigan and credit to Patriots OL coaches Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo for discovering something that had been wrong and correcting it.  He played at least 80 snaps at both OG positions and 616 at RT.  His play at RT was ranked #10 in the entire league.  He allowed only 3 snaps and 1 penalty all year.  He had never played RT at Michigan before the Patriots.  Owenu stands just 6’ 2.3” but is listed at 362 lbs.  He is short for a tackle and huge for a guard.  Despite the weight, Owenu is quite nimble.  NFL.com named him one of the top players under the age of 25.

Mason – You tend to forget about Mason.  He is one of the better pulling guards in the league.  They knew he could run block out of Georgia Tech but were unsure of his pass blocking since the Yellow Jackets played the triple-option football.  Mason stands just over 6’1” and 310 lbs.  He is susceptible to strong bull rushers.  With Owenu and now Brown manning the RT position, Mason will pull to his right and look inside with no one to block.

Andrews – is the glue that holds this OL together.  When Andrews went down with the blood clot issue two years ago, Karras filled in admirably, but it wasn’t the same.  An Undrafted Free Agent, Andrews has been a rock since he was signed in 2015.  In 2017 he was named a captain for the team and he has won two Super Bowl rings in his career.   Andrews is a bit undersized at 6’ 3” 300 lbs., but he does not let that bother him.  He is effective against bigger and smaller players.  Glad to have him back in the fold on his very reasonable 4-year deal.

Wynn – has been a bit of an enigma, constantly getting hurt.  He has never played an entire season.  When drafted out of Georgia, he was considered undersized for a LT.  Wynn was the 23rd pick in the 2018 draft despite being just 6’ 2” 318 lbs.  That is short for a tackle.  In 2018, in his 1st series of pre-season, Wynn tore his Achilles and was out for the season.  He began 2019 as the starter at LT, then hurt his toe during the second game and was placed on the reserve list.  He was returned to the active roster and even played one game at LG.  He would start 8 games in 2019.  Big things were expected from him in 2020, but a knee injury limited him to starting 10 games.  I was surprised the Patriots exercised his 5th-year option as a 1st round selection from 2018.  I supposed the Patriot didn’t want both starting tackles as Unrestricted Free Agents the same year.  No question Wynn has the talent.  Can he stay in the lineup?

Brown – this is a mountain of a man.  At 6’8”, 380 lbs.  He is so big he has his own zip code.  In his previous stint with the Patriots, he was outstanding and earned a big contract from the now Las Vegas Raiders.  Things didn’t work out in LV and the Patriots re-acquired him this off-season while re-negotiating his contract.  He is getting $11M this year and will become an Unrestricted Free Agent.  Brown credits Dante Scarnecchia with turning him around.  Both coaches Popovich and Bricillo are disciples of Scarnecchia.   Hoping that we have a recurrence of play from Brown.  The players are off on vacation until the start of camp in late July.   Not Brown, he is in a special conditioning program similar to what he did in 2018 for the next six weeks.  When in shape, Brown is one of the most dominating tackles in the league.

Backups

Karras – If Wynn gets hurt, Brown may have to move to LT and Owenu to RT as he has missed time every year.  That would leave the capable Ted Karras at LG.  Karras was a captain and starter all last season for Miami at Center.  Same replacement if Trent Brown can’t go at RT.  Karras is also Andrews backup at C.  His signing was a great move.  At the time, David Andrews was a Free Agent and everyone thought he would go elsewhere when he hadn’t signed immediately.  Once signed, Karras is a plug-and-play backup with a starter’s skills.  He is signed to a one-year contract.

Justin Herron – 6’5” 305 lbs 2020 6th Rd selection.  Herron played much more than expected last season.  He was questionable to make the team never mind playing in 12 games and starting 6 games at Tackle.  He is light for the Tackle position, but that allows him to mirror the quick, pass-rushing DE’s.  He is also a quality person, hailed for stopping a sexual assault in Tempe Arizona this off-season.  He has room to grow and could be another great late-round signing.  Don’t be surprised if he is your starting RT next year.

 

Yodny Cajuste – a third-round pick, # 101 from the 2019 draft.  At 6’ 5”, 310 lbs, the former West Virginia Mountaineer was a fearsome run blocker at the D1 collegiate level.  Cajuste would have been drafted much higher if it weren’t for a series of injuries.  This injury trend continued into the Pros.  NE drafted him knowing he had a quad injury that would require surgery and that would keep him out all of 2019.  In 2020 it was a knee injury that put him on IR for the 2020 season.  According to the Evan Lazar of CLNS Media, Cajuste is at full health and ready for camp.  Other reports had him as “lost” during OTAs and mini-camp.  Let’s wait till they put on the pads and start knocking heads.  I don’t expect much from Cajuste because of his injuries, but if he can get it together, he might be a wildcard to make the team.  If not injured, I would expect him to make the PS.

Marcus Martin – a third round, #70, by San Francisco, out of USC in 2014.  He is big at 6’3” 330 lbs.  He has 27 games played with 24 starts in the NFL between SF, Detroit, and NE.  He also had stints with CLE in 2017 where he didn’t play in any games and Dallas in 2018 on IR.  Seattle brought him to camp in 2019 but cut him and he didn’t re-sign with anyone.  He played for Detroit for 2 games in 2020 and the pats for one.   His primary position is C but can play OG.  He was a high draft pick that provides camp fodder and depth should there be an injury.  At 27 yo, I wouldn’t expect that he would be signed to the PS.

Will Sherman – at 6’ 6” 310 lbs, he is little light for an OT.  He is known as a great leader and a student of the game.  The 6th round pick from this 2020 draft started 27 games in three years with the Buffalo’s.    I consider Sherman like he was an UDFA.  The Patriots used their 2 sixth-round picks and their 7th to take players that would have been UDFA in previous drafts.  Because there were only 600 players in the player pool (normally there are 1300) I believe the Patriots draft board was as low as 60 names or fewer.  They normally have 75.  When it came to the 6th rd, no team was willing to trade low-round picks for 2023 picks, so the Pats were stuck and had to select someone.  They in turn selected players they would have signed as UDFA.  The good part of this is that they did not have to compete for these players.  I just don’t expect anything out of Sherman.  Look for him on the PS.

James Ferentz – I won’t spend much time on Ferentz.  I don’t know why they signed him.  His father is BB’s buddy.  He was signed halfway through last season as a street Free Agent.  I like to call him as part of the Patriots shadow roster, just in case there are injuries.  I don’t see the 32 yo with a spot on the PS.

Alex Redmond – a late signee to the team, Redmond will provide depth at C and RG.  He originally signed as an UDFA with Cincinnati in 2016 out of UCLA.  He was on their PS for the 2016 season.  Made the 53 man roster in 2017 and became the starter for 2018.  For his 4 years with the Bengals, he started 24 of 32 games played.  Last season he played 9 games and started 7 at RG.  He was originally signed to their PS, but activated for the 1st game and started 7 straight to start the season.  He is an experienced player despite being underweight at 6’5” 295 lbs.  Based on his experience, and without seeing him in pads, I think he will compete for the last roster spot on the OL.

R J Prince – came to mini-camp on a tryout basis and was signed when the Patriots cut LS Wes Farnsworth.  He is a little light but his height intrigues me.  He is 6’6” lbs 310 lbs. He has never played a game and was on the 53 man roster but not active for one game last season for the Ravens.   He was signed as a UDFA in 2018 by Pittsburgh and spent the entire season on their PS.  In 2019 Baltimore signed him and he spent all of 2019 and part of 2020 on their PS.  Probably just camp fodder but I am interested in hearing how he performs in camp.

Korey Cunnigham – It’s his job to win or lose.  Cunningham was active and played in 11 games last year but started none.  I was surprised when I saw he was 6’ 6” 311 lbs.  He doesn’t look that big.  I think he is in a big fight for his roster spot.  Should be an interesting camp for the 4-year vet.  He is only 26 years old.

There you have the O Line.  It looks like a good group going into camp.  Injuries always play a big part.  Let’s hope they stay away from the injury bug.  Look for my next roster projection just before the start of camp the last week of July.

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About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.


Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Offseason
Tags: Alex Redmond David Andrews Isaiah Wynn James Ferentz Justin Herron Marcus Martin Michael Onwenu R J Prince Shaq Mason Ted Karras Trent Brown Will Sherman Yodny Cajuste

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