Recently resigned Stephen Neal is the 6th oldest projected starting O-Liner in the entire league, followed closely by Matt Light at #21. Dan Koppen wasn't too far behind at #34. Our "youth" comes in at #71 with Logan Mankins and #110 with Sebastian Vollmer. Keep in mind that there are 160 starting offensive linemen in the league. That means that Mankins, at 28 years old, is already in the oldest half of the league. Didn't we just draft him?
Our offensive line averaged just 2 days shy of 30 years on average. That's pretty darn old in football years. When our line was held together with glue, Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer last year, it became all too clear why last year's draft was spent on the interior line, grabbing George Bussey and Rich Ohrnberger. This year, we grabbed Ted Larsen and Thomas Welch. It's very possible that, combined with Sebastian Vollmer and (if his contract status is ever resolved) Logan Mankins, our O-Line could be full of new faces next year.
- Matt Light's contract is up at the end of this upcoming 2010 season. Look for Sebastian Vollmer to step into the starting role next year.
- Logan Mankin is in a dispute over his current contract. Hopefully, he'll be resigned and kept as a Patriot.
- Dan Koppen is done after 2011. Ted Larsen should be ready to be a starter in 2011.
- Stephen Neal is done in 2011 as well. Rich Ohrnberger or Dan Connolly should be ready to step into a starter's role this season, never mind in 2011. Look for Neal to hang around as injury insurance.
- Nick Kaczur, inexplicably, received an extension until 2012. Thomas Welch could steal this spot if he steps up his game.
It's true that our offensive line most likely won't be the same after this season. They've been hindered with injuries and a bad case of the "old". Our front office has been drafting for the future, as of late, and it seems that now is the best time to reap the benefits of the draft. I'm not confident in any member of our offensive line not named Vollmer or Mankins. The youth needs to step up and prove their worth as soon as possible.