The New England Patriots selected Florida State C Bryan Stork with the 105th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, and followed that up by adding Florida State OG Tre Jackson with the 111th overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Patriots then drafted Georgia Tech OG Shaq Mason with the 131st overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft and added Georgia C David Andrews as an undrafted prospect after the same draft.
The two earliest picks are no longer with the team, while the latter two picks are entrenched starters. Looks like Georgia got the best of Florida in this one.
I’m fascinated by the outcome of these positional battles because the two players that are succeeding have bucked the trends for size at their positions.
Stork is a 6’4, 315 pound lineman that battled knee, shoulder, and head injuries entering the draft. Jackson is a 6’4, 330 pound behemoth that suffered long-term knee problems. Mason is a shrimpy 6’2, 304 pounds, while Andrews is a similar 6’2, 295 pounds.
From a pure size standpoint, Stork and Jackson were the clear favorites at the position, hence their draft status. But from an athleticism standpoint, both Mason and Andrews blow their counterparts out of the water.
Guess which players are starting on the Patriots offensive line. pic.twitter.com/QsqiM30BeA— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) April 19, 2017
Both Jackson and Stork were wildly unathletic for the job, while both Mason and Andrews were above average. The saying goes, “you can’t teach size,” but you still need players that can compete with the athletes on the defensive line.
Mason and Andrews have now started 30 games each over the course of their careers. Stork and Jackson have combined for 30 starts.
The Patriots appeared to learn from their mistakes and they added the athletic Joe Thuney with the 78th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. Thuney is larger than Stork, providing the team with the size they’ve craved, while also being a better athlete than Mason or Andrews.
Jackson’s release pushes interior lineman back into the foreground of potential options in the NFL Draft. Ted Karras is the top back-up and he possesses Stork’s size with slightly more athleticism. The Patriots like Karras, but there is always room for improvement, especially if potential prospects are available in the later rounds.
Here are five day three interior offensive line prospects with both size, athleticism, and starting experience that could interest the Patriots:
Portland State’s Cam Keizer. 6’3, 303 pounds, 41 starts at right guard and center. Team captain. Explosive out of his stance, possesses good lateral quickness, is very experienced in the run game, but needs to work on his technique. Small school prospect. Thinks Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning.
Texas Christian’s Aviante Collins. 6’4, 295 pounds, 35 starts at left and right tackle. Athleticism jumps out on tape as he gets to the second level and blocks in the open field. Gets high in his stance too quickly. Likely to convert from tackle to interior in NFL and would need to add more weight.
Chattanooga’s Corey Levin. 6’4, 307 pounds, 51 starts at left guard and left tackle, with one start at right tackle. Twice named best blocker in conference. Great lower body quickness, but hands are a little slow. Needs to refine technique and strength in the NFL.
South Florida’s Kofi Amichia. 6’4, 302 pounds, 26 starts at left and tight tackle. Would be the most athletic player on interior line. Good drive blocker, but can miss blocks at the second level and open field. Needs to add more strength.
Michigan’s Ben Braden. 6’6, 329 pounds, 36 starts at both tackle and guard positions. Solid athlete and is able to get by in college despite having very questionable technique. Needs to learn to use his lower body in the NFL.
All of these players could be available in the sixth or seventh rounds if the Patriots want to add an athletic lineman that can compete with Karras for a role as a good-upside back-up prospect.