When the New England Patriots drafted offensive tackle Antonio Garcia in the third round last year, they did so with the future in mind: The Troy product was seen as a potential replacement in case starting left tackle Nate Solder left the team via free agency in 2018. Fast forward to today and the Patriots might just need Garcia to become said replacement following Solder signing a record-breaking deal with the New York Giants.
The 24-year old, however, is entering the offseason with questions about his health: Garcia was forced to miss all of last year after doctors discovered blood clots in his lungs. According to a report by The Athletic Boston's Jeff Howe, the offensive lineman was placed on blood thinners and as a result lost more than 40 pounds. And while he was able to start working out again a few months ago, a timetable for a return was not set.
Despite the medical condition that made him miss all of his rookie campaign, Garcia is expected to make a full recovery and return to the field this offseason. And it sounds like this return is not too far away if the Boston Sports Journal's Greg Bedard is to be believed. Garcia reportedly “looks like he could step on a field tomorrow and hold his own” and has apparently added significant muscle since last year.
When asked about it, Garcia noted that he would feel the “best [he has] ever felt” and that he would be “ready to go”. Having the 6'7 tackle, who said that he is currently at 290 lbs – about 10, 15 pounds away from his ideal playing weight –, back at full strength would be an enormous boost to a Patriots left tackle depth chart that is currently headed by career backup LaAdrian Waddle.
Because of this, New England is seen as a team potentially investing in one of the top tier tackles on the draft market like Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey or Texas' Connor Williams. However, Garcia being well on his way to return to form could drastically alter the team's approach in two weeks.