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17 years of Patriots: Analyzing interior OL under Bill Belichick

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Guards and centers!

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

This is the fifth part of this series. If you want to check out other parts, here are quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers/tight ends, and offensive tackles.

The Patriots have had a nice pipeline of interior linemen over the past 16 years, with the likes of Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, and Damien Woody serving as some of the best. New England has consistently been able to plug in new players to guard and center spots with limited performance changes. Similar to offensive tackles, the Patriots value guards with strong short shuttles and an ability to move in space. Let’s take a closer look at each role within the Patriots’ system.

LEFT GUARD

2000 Adrian Klemm

2001 Mike Compton

2002 Mike Compton

2003 Damien Woody

2004 Joe Andruzzi

2005 Logan Mankins

2006 Logan Mankins

2007 Logan Mankins

2008 Logan Mankins

2009 Logan Mankins

2010 Logan Mankins

2011 Logan Mankins

2012 Logan Mankins

2013 Logan Mankins

2014 Dan Connolly

2015 Josh Kline

2016 Joe Thuney

SUMMARY: Mankins was a cornerstone for the entire time that he was in Foxboro, and is probably the second best offensive guard in Patriots history behind John Hannah. Mankins was a surprise first round pick in 2005, but in hindsight he met all of the requirements that New England looks for at this position. Ever since Mankins was shipped to Tampa, the Patriots have sought to fill that role with three mediocre players. At least with Joe Thuney, there’s some athletic ability that comes to bear. Thuney is a SPARQed up guard prospect who struggled toward the end of last year but still has plenty of potential. If Scarnecchia can help him improve with his angular power, he should be a long-term starter.

CENTER

2000 Damien Woody

2001 Damien Woody

2002 Damien Woody

2003 Dan Koppen

2004 Dan Koppen

2005 Dan Koppen

2006 Dan Koppen

2007 Dan Koppen

2008 Dan Koppen

2009 Dan Koppen

2010 Dan Koppen

2011 Dan Connolly

2012 Ryan Wendell

2013 Ryan Wendell

2014 Bryan Stork

2015 David Andrews

2016 David Andrews

SUMMARY: The Patriots have had some great continuity at center over the years, although the short-lived Ryan Wendell era was pretty bad. Bryan Stork started for all of one season until concussions essentially ended his tenure. Since then, ex-UDFA David Andrews has provided stability at the position, serving as a solid run blocker and a savvy pas blocker. He should hold down this position for a long time to come.

RIGHT GUARD

2000 Sale Isaia

2001 Joe Andruzzi

2002 Joe Andruzzi

2003 Joe Andruzzi

2004 Stephen Neal

2005 Stephen Neal

2006 Stephen Neal

2007 Stephen Neal

2008 Stephen Neal

2009 Stephen Neal

2010 Stephen Neal

2011 Brian Waters

2012 Dan Connolly

2013 Dan Connolly

2014 Ryan Wendell

2015 Tre Jackson/Shaq Mason

2016 Shaq Mason

SUMMARY: Since Stephen Neal left New England, the Patriots had been looking for a guard to take his place. Dan Connolly and Wendell both gave admirable attempts, but Shaq Mason has taken control of this role and his fantastic pulling ability has helped him become the best run blocker on the team. This role fundamentally changed in 2012 when the athletic Connolly became more of a pull blocker, and Mason has taken the torch with aplomb. He still needs work as a pass protector, but he should stick at this role for a while longer.

SWING GUARD/CENTER

2000 Grey Ruegamer

2001 Grey Ruegamer

2002 Grey Ruegamer/Stephen Neal

2003 Stephen Neal/Russ Hochstein

2004 Russ Hochstein

2005 Russ Hochstein

2006 Russ Hochstein/Billy Yates

2007 Russ Hochstein

2008 Billy Yates

2009 Dan Connolly

2010 Dan Connolly

2011 Donald Thomas/Ryan Wendell

2012 Donald Thomas

2013 Josh Kline

2014 Josh Kline/Jordan Devey/Marcus Cannon

2015 Bryan Stork

2016 Ted Karras

SUMMARY: Ted Karras is another member of the “worked at guard and center” fraternity with the likes of Grey Ruegamer, Russ Hochstein, and Josh Kline among others. It would not be shocking if the Patriots roll with Karras again in 2017. He looked good in the preseason and another year of experience could help him solidify his role further.

PROSPECT FITS: If the Patriots pick an interior lineman he’ll be someone versatile and athletic who can play both guard and center. One name to keep an eye on is Tyler Orlosky from West Virginia, who is mobile, smart, and savvy with his hand placement on a consistent basis.