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Patriots LG Joe Thuney was the best guard in the NFL for preseason week 1

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The Patriots 3rd round pick looks like a total steal.

New England Patriots rookie left guard Joe Thuney caught the attention of numerous football writers and analysts this offseason, and Thuney rewarded them with one heckuva performance against the Saints in the first week of the preseason.

The Herald’s Jeff Howe went on 98.5 The Sports Hub to discuss Thuney and said the guard “looks like a first-round draft pick. He’s been outstanding.”

Howe also wrote a profile of Thuney, including a fun fact that the rookie is working towards his third degree. Thuney graduated NC State with a major in accounting and a minor in Spanish; Thuney is a few credits away from another major in international studies.

Thuney has also been praised by Pro Football Focus for his performance.

I reached out to PFF’s Ben Stockwell to get his thoughts on Thuney’s performance in comparison to the rest of the league. His evaluation was even more glowing than I anticipated.

“For the first week only [Texans 4th year veteran] Oday Aboushi graded higher [than Thuney] at guard and he was playing the 2nd half for HST- so up against 2nd & 3rd string guys,” Stockwell wrote. “Sample size always an issue in preseason & whether you're against 1st & 2nd string but [Thuney’s] grade was as good as any guard this week who played against starters.”

That’s some serious praise, even if it’s only been one half of football. Thuney played as well as any veteran guard did in the first week of the preseason, and it wouldn’t be surprising to think Thuney is only going to improve with more experience.

Stockwell notes that Ravens 6th overall pick OT Ronnie Stanley was “the only other rookie OL to grade well” against first team defense, while a few other rookie linemen played well against the back-ups.

The Patriots traded away edge defender Chandler Jones for a 2nd round pick and guard Jonathan Cooper, and flipped that 2nd rounder for a 3rd and a 4th. Those two picks turned into Thuney and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, the two most exciting rookies in camp.

But while Thuney has that 3rd round pedigree, he’s performing better than any other lineman in the entire draft- and better than most of the veterans, too.

The sky might be the limit with this prospect.