Once it became clear that the New England Patriots would be unable to retain two of their top three tackles from a year ago – starting left tackle Nate Solder and swing-backup Cameron Fleming –, the writing was on the wall for the team to address the position later during the offseason. Well, later has arrived in the form of the NFL draft.
Day one saw the team invest a first-round draft pick in Georgia tackle/guard-hybrid Isaiah Wynn. Day two saw the team send a third-round draft pick to the San Francisco 49ers to acquire the team's starting right tackle from the last two seasons, Trent Brown, and a fifth-round selection. Both moves significantly bolster the Patriots' depth at a position that is in turnover ever since Solder and Fleming left and now looks as follows:
Only five of the nine players listed above were with the Patriots last season, and only two of them – Waddle and Croston – ended the year on the active 53-man roster. Safe to say, New England's offensive line is in serious rebuilding mode. What also adds to this thought is the fact that no one single position on the roster appears to be set in stone, both on the outside and, considering the first round pick spent on Wynn, on the inside as well.
As Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio noted during his day one press conference yesterday, the team is looking to field its best five offensive linemen. The moves made over the last two days give New England flexibility both in terms of positioning and depth at both tackle and guard spots. Safe to say, the camp competition – and any follow-up moves made – will be intriguing.