Prior to the 2016 season, the New England Patriots had to decide between retaining a former 4th round Super Bowl champion center in Bryan Stork, or a second-year undrafted, undersized center in David Andrews.
Stork had the size, he had the pedigree, he had the NFL success, and he beat out Andrews for the starting job halfway through the 2015 season- but Patriots QB Tom Brady favored the smaller Andrews for his football intelligence. Andrews knew how to make the line calls and he saw the field the same way that Brady did.
The Patriots release Stork after trying to trade him. Andrews has started every game at center in 2016.
“I've always loved football,” Andrews said. “Football kind of been...if I could've taken it as a major in Georgia, that's what I would've majored in cause it's a lot more interesting to me than a lot of things. It what I love, it's what I love to do. It's not just going out there and playing, it's the mental preparation and everything like that.
“I think it's important that me and him [Brady] are on the same page and I took that as a challenge to be on the same page with him. Obviously he knows a lot because he's been doing it for along time, so just having that opportunity to work with a guy like that, to learn from him has been awesome."
Andrews earned an offseason award for his strength and conditioning and he took a major step forward as a sophomore blocker. While Andrews still has a long to go in his development, he’s a very good center and his ability to help establish protections for Brady has played a role in the Patriots offensive success.
If Andrews can improve his ability to anchor in the middle of the line over the next offseason, then he’ll be solid in pretty much every facet of the game. He plans on working through the same offseason regimen than earned him the praise of the coaching staff.
"Why change something?,” Andrews asked when questioned about changing his offseason workouts. “I got a plan that's been working for a long time now. The only thing I've ever known to do is work hard, so I'm going to keep doing that."
Andrews will continue to improve from a physical standpoint, but it’s been his ability to operate with a high football intelligence that set him apart from Stork and won the favor of Brady.
“The guy understands the game,” Patriots LT Nate Solder said about Andrews. “He’s probably going to be a coach one day. He has a great mind for the game. He can comprehend so much information, retain that information and disperse that information throughout the o-line. So he’s been so pivotal.”
Andrews’ brilliance will be on display on Sunday as the Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons.