Dante Scarnecchia made news this morning by visiting the University of Florida. As we all know, Scarnecchia is helping the Patriots evaluate OL prospects in the draft. The media likes talking about the guard position as a need for the Patriots, but I also consider the tackle position to be equally as important a draft need, if not a higher priority. As Mike Reiss highlights here, the University of Florida is sending possibly five lineman to the NFL. Let's start from the top.
DJ Humphries (#70): Humphries was considered a Day 2 (late 2) prospect before tearing it up at the combine. Humphries is a player the Patriots could use as depth in Year 1 if they consider Cameron Fleming a guard moving forward. If Fleming is plugged in at the right guard spot in 2015, there is need for a 4th OT. Humphries is listed at 6'5" 307, which is a bit light for even the left tackle position in the NFL (315 is a good weight for him). Nate Solder (FA after the season) has had concussion issues and Sebastian Vollmer has battled injuries in the past and is into his 30s. Left tackle is one of the hardest positions to draft when you don't have a Top 20 pick, so you have to find diamonds in the rough. Humphries is a player I identified as a key prospect in my Drafting Up a Strategy Post and is listed on my 1st round board. If Humphries slides past the Steelers, teams definitely will look to trade up to draft him (the window is 23-24, since the Panthers have a major need on the offensive line). An outside the box idea would be to start him off Year 1 as a guard and if Nate Solder winds up signing a contract extension, you have him play guard either indefinitely or when Vollmer becomes a free agent or is released.
Chaz Green (#75): Green was a team captain at the University of Florida, and at 6'5" 314, has the size to play both tackle and guard for the team. Green doesn't have the upside that Humphries has, but offers solid mid round value for the Patriots if they are looking for OL depth. I'd project Green as an early 4th round pick, and the most likely to end up in New England of all the Florida OL. The only concerning measurable for the combine from Green is a 8.00 3-cone time, his other timed measurables are very good. I'm not sure where Green would project in the long term, but I think at the minimum he'd be a swing T/G like former Patriots OL Donald Thomas.
Max Garcia (#76): Another team captain, and has the versatility to play guard and center for the team. He has experience at the tackle position, although it's unlikely he plays there unless there is an emergency. Garcia is the closest prospect in the draft to Patriots starting center Bryan Stork. Stork was a high 4th, and I have Garcia as a mid 4th. Garcia would likely project as a guard for the Patriots given Stork's presence at center and Garcia being a better athlete.
Trent Brown (#74): Brown is a mammoth-sized OL at 6'8" 355 with 36" arms and 11" hands, but is also a major project. Whoever drafts him would have to be very patient with his development. Given the depth the Patriots have behind the starters at tackle, Brown is likely to be a practice squad candidate with the team with an outside shot of being the starting RT when Vollmer and Marcus Cannon's contracts expire. If the Patriots believe in his development, we may see him as a 6th blocker in power running formations (Indianapolis Colts fans shutter).
While Florida State has captured the attention of scouts in terms of offensive line prospects, their cross-state rivals have a pretty impressive set of offensive lineman prospects as well. Humphries is a projected Top-20 pick with Green and Garcia being solid mid-round selections for any team, especially the Patriots. In terms of likely to end up in New England, I'd go Green, Garcia, Humphries, then Brown. If you are looking to watch film on these guys, you can do it in one shot if you look up DJ Humphries film.