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17 years of Patriots: Analyzing offensive tackles under Bill Belichick

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Let’s remember some guys

San Diego Chargers v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Patriots have been extremely lucky at the tackle position over the years, maintaining continuity and general stellar performance. Left tackle has been especially solid, while right tackle has relied on some interchangeable parts to keep Tom Brady upright. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has been a stalwart, as his tutelage helped make the likes of Nick Kaczur, Brandon Gorin, and Marcus Cannon passable. The Patriots have had a colorful cast rotate through these positions in the past, and it’s interesting to look back at some of their commonalities in hindsight.

Left Tackle

2000 Bruce Armstrong

2001 Matt Light

2002 Matt Light

2003 Matt Light

2004 Matt Light

2005 Matt Light

2006 Nick Kaczur

2007 Matt Light

2008 Matt Light

2009 Matt Light

2010 Matt Light

2011 Matt Light

2012 Nate Solder

2013 Nate Solder

2014 Nate Solder

2015 Nate Solder

2016 Nate Solder

Summary: The Patriots have had some fairly athletic left tackles. All three of New England’s left tackles post 2000 excelled in some major Combine event - Matt Light was 91st percentile in terms of his 20 yard shuttle, Nick Kaczur was 86th percentile in vertical jump, and Nate Solder’s Mock Draftable web is crazy. The Patriots put a lot of trust in their left tackles, especially when it comes to short area movement and ability to stay with edge players when they turn the corner. Solder often gets maligned, but he was pretty good this past season, protecting the blindside admirably for his quarterbacks against a tough group of rushers. He should be solid again in 2017.

Right Tackle

2000 Greg Robinson-Randall

2001 Greg Robinson-Randall

2002 Kenyatta Jones

2003 Tom Ashworth

2004 Brandon Gorin

2005 Tom Ashworth

2006 Nick Kaczur

2007 Nick Kaczur

2008 Nick Kaczur

2009 Nick Kaczur

2010 Sebastian Vollmer

2011 Nate Solder

2012 Sebastian Vollmer

2013 Sebastian Vollmer

2014 Sebastian Vollmer

2015 Sebastian Vollmer

2016 Marcus Cannon

Summary: Right tackle has been more variable, but the Patriots have lucked into some solid performance at this position over the years. The likes of Kaczur, Sebastian Vollmer, and Cannon have provided length and strength on the right side. Unlike the left tackle in the Patriots’ scheme, the right tackle often receives help from the tight end, allowing for them to specialize more at inside leverage blocking and pure power. Cannon lost some weight coming into this season and that, plus Scarnecchia’s coaching, helped propel him to a Second Team AP All Pro honor. New contract in hand, Cannon seems pretty entrenched here for the time being.

Swing Tackle

2000 Grant Williams

2001 Adrian Klemm

2002 Greg Robinson-Randall

2003 Brandon Gorin

2004 Tom Ashworth

2005 Brandon Gorin

2006 Ryan O’Callaghan

2007 Wesley Britt/Ryan O’Callaghan

2008 Mark LeVoir

2009 Sebastian Vollmer

2010 Quinn Ojinnaka/Mark LeVoir

2011 Marcus Cannon

2012 Marcus Cannon

2013 Will Svitek/Marcus Cannon

2014 Cameron Fleming

2015 Marcus Cannon/Cameron Fleming

2016 Cameron Fleming

Summary: The Patriots’ swing tackle position is underrated but occasionally crucial to the team’s success. Who can forget Cameron Fleming’s sixth OL performance against the Colts where helped Jonas Gray get four touchdowns? Fleming filled in admirably this year as well, and although he is a free agent it would be nice to see him back in 2017. However, the Patriots have a habit of filling this spot with some memorable random names. Who can forget the likes of Mark LeVoir, Ryan O’Callaghan, or Quinn Ojinnaka?

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Prospect fits: For once, the Patriots don’t have a major need on the offensive line this year. However, if they decide to dip for a tackle, keep an eye on the short shuttle. The Patriots love explosive linemen, whether in the shuttle or jumps. Will Holden from Vanderbilt is an interesting prospect who could benefit from some polish but he has the requisite athleticism to be a good NFL offensive tackle. Julie’n Davenport is another lengthy project who could be a passion project for Scarnecchia as he ends his career. In reality, though, just keep an eye on tackles with good jumps and shuttles and you can’t go wrong here.