Last season, the offensive line took a long time to find its perfect combination. The first four games of the year were a total disaster, as were the games where interior lineman Dan Connolly was injured and unavailable. While Captain Connolly wouldn't be confused for Logan Mankins, he brought the unit together for their most productive stretch.
Connolly is not on the roster. He's not on any roster.
Instead, the Patriots have (finally) addressed the interior line through the draft and will hopefully feature three fourth round picks on the interior, flanked by first and second round picks at tackle.
Oddly enough, even after all of last season's turmoil, and the potential loss of Connolly, the New England Patriots offensive line is probably one of the most determined positions on the roster.
Tackle: Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming
Interior: Ryan Wendell, Bryan Stork, Tre Jackson, Shaquille Mason
Bill Belichick drafted just one college interior lineman (Rich Ohrnberger, 2009) in the top four rounds since he took over the team. Remember, Logan Mankins and Adrian Klemm were tackles in college. In the past two drafts, Belichick has selected three in the fourth round. He's smelling some market inefficiency and he's pouncing.
All of these players are pretty much locks on the team. The week one starting line-up will likely be Solder, Wendell, Stork, Jackson, and Vollmer. Cannon and Fleming will be the first linemen off of the bench in heavy sets. Mason will groom to take over for Wendell after this season. All of this makes sense.
Interior: Josh Kline, Jordan Devey
Might as well throw Connolly into this grouping of players, but the fact that the team issued his jersey to Tre Jackson implies that Connolly might be a long shot to return.
If the Patriots carry nine offensive linemen (and they very well might), Kline and Devey would be likely options. Kline performed at a serviceable level in his time last season, while Devey struggled when he took the field. However, Devey earned the starting role over Kline at the beginning of the year, so the coaches certainly saw something in his play.
Tackle: Kevin Hughes
Interior: Caylin Hauptmann, Chris Barker, David Andrews
Andrews is a prime candidate to make the practice squad as he helped pave the way for first round pick Todd Gurley. Hauptmann and Barker are running out of time to make an impression and their roster spots are in jeopardy. Hughes will be offering snaps at tackle so the four roster locks aren't on the field every single down during the off-season.